Research and Clinical Studies
Doctors and scientists in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine work to develop safer, more effective treatments for conditions that affect children’s bones, muscles and joints. From refining surgical techniques to testing new drugs, we lead efforts to improve care so every child can live their life to the fullest. Our growing research program is discovering better ways to diagnose children’s musculoskeletal conditions.
Your child’s team will talk with you about registries and clinical trials available through Seattle Children’s that might benefit your child. We may ask you to fill out questionnaires about your child’s function and quality of life. Your answers help us improve care for your child and others who have a similar condition.
Here are some of the many projects in our research program, funded in part by the Lynn Taylor Staheli Endowed Chair in Pediatric Orthopedics. See detailed information about open research studies here.
Foot and Ankle Research
Through our registry of children with limb differences, we collect and study data about patients’ quality of life. The data help us understand connections between a child’s diagnosis, the types of care the child receives and the results. By looking at data from many children over time, our doctors are able to choose the best treatment for each child.
To refine clubfoot treatment, Seattle Children’s is a research site for a national study that compares 2 years of bracing after casting to 4 years of bracing after casting. The goal is to learn how we can reduce the risk of clubfoot coming back.
Skeletal Dysplasia Research
Seattle Children’s doctors are expanding knowledge about treatment of skeletal dysplasia with our registry that tracks what patients say about how they are doing.
Some doctors who treat children at other clinics or hospitals have little experience with less common forms of skeletal dysplasia. To improve care for children everywhere, our experts are part of the Skeletal Dysplasia Management Consortium. This group publishes evidence-based guidelines that doctors around the world can follow.
Soft Tissue and Bone Tumor Registry
As with many other orthopedic conditions, we collect outcomes data for children with soft tissue tumors or bone tumors. Asking children and families about their experience helps us learn more about effective care.
Our Spine Program team works closely with doctors from Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine to better understand how the lungs work in children with severe spinal curves (scoliosis). By looking at the degree of airway problems before and after surgery, we are learning more about methods to help children with lung disease linked to scoliosis.
We treat many young children with traditional growing rods, vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib, Mehta casting and, more recently, magnetic growing rods. Much of our research focuses on comparing how these children do and improving their care.
Seattle Children’s has a major role in the Children’s Spine Study Group, an international group researching spine deformities in children. Drs. Greg Redding, a pulmonologist, and Klane White, an orthopedic surgeon, lead this effort.
We also provide care for neck (cervical spine) problems in children with skeletal dysplasia, congenital syndromes and Down syndrome. Drs. Jen Bauer and Wally Krengel take part in international study groups for these conditions.
Members of our Spine Program team belong to the Scoliosis Research Society and played an important part in a landmark research study called Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial (BrAIST).
Sports Medicine Research
The research team from our Sports Medicine Program focuses on returning children to sports safely after an injury. We collect details from our patients about how they do after surgery for injuries to knee ligaments (anterior cruciate ligament or medial patellofemoral ligament). Then we use this information to improve surgical techniques and rehabilitation plans.
We also take part in the Pediatric Research in Sports Medicine Society (PRiSM). PRiSM connects many types of healthcare providers who specialize in caring for young athletes. It promotes shared research to advance care for active children and teens.
Seattle Children’s has developed a treatment-planning tool (clinical standard work pathway) for upper leg (femur) fractures and another for upper arm (supracondylar elbow) fractures. These tools, or pathways, are designed to improve the safety of treatment for these common breaks, and we’re doing studies to check the results. We are also doing a study (randomized control trial) on treating a common lower leg fracture in young children (sometimes called “toddler’s fracture”).
Upper Limb Differences Research
We are part of a national registry known as CoULD, which stands for Congenital Upper Limb Differences Registry. The registry tracks quality of life and other outcomes after surgery to help improve care for children with conditions like syndactyly, polydactyly, symbrachydactyly, amniotic band syndrome and arthrogryposis.
Vascular Malformations Research
Our Orthopedic, General Surgery and Interventional Radiology experts have worked together to come up with a better way to treat venous malformations in kids’ arms and legs. These clusters of blood vessels can become painful as your child grows, making it hard for your child to walk, play or enjoy common activities, like sports.
To remove the malformations, we inject a medical version of Super Glue first. After the glue hardens inside the blood vessels, surgeons can remove the cluster more safely and easily.
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