February 21, 2024

Pediatric Spine Study Group (PSSG) Annual Report 2023

Michael Vitale, MD, MPH is a founding member of Pediatric Spine Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Spine Foundation. He is currently the Director of Pediatric Orthopaedics and Chief of the Pediatric Spine Service at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York, while serving as the Ana Lucia Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Read more about Pediatric Spine Foundation below and in the Pediatric Spine Study Group (PSSG) Annual Report 2023.


In 2023, we truly took the Pediatric Spine Foundation to the next level. With a very successful merger accomplished, we made strategic changes to strengthen our team effort to care for children with complex spine deformities. One of the key moves was to create a single moment each year where all those who are passionate about improving the lives of these children—clinicians, researchers, medical device innovators—can gather to advance the field. To make that moment the annual International Congress on Early Onset Scoliosis (ICEOS), we’ve moved the Research Factory from winter to fall, so it is now part of ICEOS week.


We’ve also changed our leadership service calendar so that we pass the batons to our successors at ICEOS as well. In Charleston, I had the great honor to pass the baton on the PSF Presidency to the world-renown pediatric spine surgeon and thought-leader, Dr. Paul Sponseller. Going forward, the PSF winter meeting will be a strategic planning meeting for leadership focused on improving our research and education efforts and assuring financial stewardship in a moment when high-quality multicenter research is ever more expensive.

Surgeons from all over the world are saying that ICEOS 2023 in Charleston was the best ever! With 192 registrants from 21 countries, it was the biggest group we’ve ever assembled to share research and debate the best treatment of complex spinal problems in children. We had strong support from our industry partners, and a wonderful venue and city to enjoy. Many thanks to Noelle Larson for assembling a spectacular program! ICEOS is truly the must attend event for the pediatric spine surgeons of the world.

We’ve also had an incredibly productive year of research. PSSG, under the leadership of Amer Samdani and now Lindsay Andras, had a highly productive Research Factory in Charleston. We have 200 PSSG members from 82 institutions in 12 countries….and growing every year. We added 17 new Candidate Members—energized rising stars in the field with great ideas and lots of motivation to improve our care. We now have 12,469 unique patients with 130,600 evaluations and 201,800 images in our database—the largest spine database in the world. By October, we had 52 accepted abstracts and 34 publications in 2023, with many more in the works.

It takes substantial resources for Tricia St. Hilaire, our Executive Director, and her team, to continue driving our work forward. We are so grateful to those PSSG members, PSF philanthropists and Industry Partners who contribute generously. With the combination of thought-leaders, generous contributors and world-class research infrastructure and management, PSF is positioned to further improve the lives of children around the world challenged with complex spine problems. PSF is proud, but not satisfied. The best is yet to come!

“Surgeons from all over the world are saying that ICEOS 2023 in Charleston was the best ever! With 192 registrants from 21 countries, it was the biggest group we’ve ever assembled to share research and debate the best treatment of complex spinal problems in children.” — Jack Flynn, MD, President

Research Grant

The primary goal of this study is to develop a frailty score for patients with early onset scoliosis using available pre-operative risk factors and intra-operative variables through machine learning models that were previously developed in our pilot study. More specifically, we intend to use our experience in the development of previous risk severity scores as well as pilot work using the American College of Surgeon’s NSQIP database to develop a frailty model which predicts excessive length of stay which may serve as a proxy for perioperative complications.

PSSG-Annual-Report Casting

Bracing vs. Casting in the Treatment of Idiopathic Early Onset Scoliosis

Principal Investigators: Stuart Weinstein, MD & Lori Dolan, PhD

This multicenter, prospective study is currently being run through PSSG by Stuart Weinstein, MD and Lori Dolan, PhD from the University of Iowa. Patients under the age of 4 with early onset scoliosis are treated with either serial casts or a full-time brace and followed until curve resolution, failure or palliation. Curve resolution is defined by curve improvement to less than 15 degrees, while failure is defined by 20+ degrees of curve progression, resulting in a curve greater than 50 degrees.

Currently, there are 66 patients enrolled with an enrollment goal of 220. Results of this study hope to provide clinicians and families with further evidence to support informed treatment decisions regarding bracing and casting.