Children's Hospital Colorado
In the background, a patient with long brown hair watches as a doctor holds a white plastic skeleton of the hips, which is shown clearly in the foreground.

If spine and back issues are keeping your child from living their fullest life, our pediatric spine specialists can help them live and play like a kid again. With innovative, industry-leading treatments and an unmatched level of experience in children’s spine care, the Children’s Hospital Colorado Spine Program is the only choice for your child.

About the Spine Program

The Spine Program specializes in the evaluation and treatment of pediatric spine and back conditions and injuries. No matter the type or severity, our pediatric spine specialists explore non-surgical treatment options first because they’re often the safest and most effective. When we believe surgery is the best treatment, patients and their families can expect safe, innovative techniques because we’re one of the top children’s spine centers in the country.

Under the leadership of Medical Director Mark Erickson, MD, and Quality and Safety Director Sumeet Garg, MD, we offer advanced treatments, a wide range of expertise and a promise to include your child and your family as partners in your care.

Spine conditions we treat at the Spine Program

We treat a variety of spine and back conditions in children, teens and young adults, including:

Spine and back services we offer

Our Spine Program offers numerous services, including:

  • Orthopedic surgeons and physician assistants who specialize in advanced pediatric spine care
  • Pediatric orthopedic nurses who have specialized training and experience in children’s spine care
  • Scoliosis-specific exercise therapy with specially trained physical therapists
  • Continuum of care from infancy through young adulthood
  • Individualized treatment plans
  • Low radiation dose imaging with EOS
  • Access to 3D modeling and surgical planning for complex cases
  • Vertebral body tethering, which is an alternative to traditional fusion procedures that guides remaining spine growth while maintaining mobility

Learn about vertebral body tethering and how it helped Josiah

Josiah was getting ready for spinal tethering surgery for scoliosis when he tried something new on his mountain bike, shot over the handlebars and landed on his head. He broke three vertebrae in his neck. This required spinal fusion surgery, which he had just three weeks before his spinal tethering surgery.

Thanks to our spinal surgery expertise, pediatric physical therapists and Josiah's grit, he's back to everything he loves.

Our spinal surgery services include:

  • A team of anesthesiologists, nurses, physical therapistssocial workersnutritionists, respiratory therapists and child life specialists
  • Highly specialized nurses including dedicated spine nurses and inpatient nurses with training in pediatric orthopedics
  • Operating rooms and equipment specifically designed for kids, teens and young adults
  • Personalized spinal surgery techniques including advanced navigation systems, robotic spine surgery technology and 3D modeling to make spinal surgery safer and more effective.
  • Real-time multi-modal spinal cord monitoring to maximize the safety of the spinal cord and spinal nerves during surgery

Watch Hunter’s spine surgery story:

Hunter had a condition called congenital kyphoscoliosis that was twisting his backbone so much that it was pinching his spinal cord, preventing him from walking. Watch how our team used several innovative techniques, including 3D modeling, to help him find his legs.

Spinal research and innovations

Navigation and robotics in spine surgery

Our Spine Program is one of just a handful of pediatric programs in the world to use both real-time navigation and robotics during complex spine surgeries.

Real-time navigation during spinal surgery uses a virtual model of the spine in the operating room using low-dose 3D imaging. This allows our surgeons to place spinal implants precisely to maximize strength and minimize the risk of damaging surrounding blood vessels, nerves and the spinal cord. Surgeons at Children’s Colorado are leaders in the field of navigation and have trained numerous surgeons worldwide on best practices for navigation in spinal surgery.

Children’s Colorado is also one of the few children’s hospitals worldwide using robotics in spinal surgery. The robot acts as a guide for the surgeon, helping them make absolutely sure they are placing screws in the correct position along the spine. Children’s Colorado is an early adopter of this technology. In fact, the Spine Program is helping the robot’s manufacturers refine the system to prepare it for more widespread use by other children’s hospitals.

Learn about how robotic spine surgery helped Katie:

Professional development and research

Our specialists also participate in professional groups and ongoing research projects that explore new and innovative care for spine conditions so we can bring the best and safest treatments to you. This includes:

Why choose us for pediatric spinal care

Our Spine Program performs more than 250 pediatric spine procedures each year — more than anyone else in our region. Because of this, our spine surgery outcomes, or measures of safety and success, are among the best in the nation. On average, our patients experience a shorter stay and have a lower risk of infection.

Patients and their families also appreciate our comprehensive and friendly care plan, which includes:

  • A welcome program and coordinator who provides a hospital introduction and offers support services
  • An interactive spine education class patients can take to help them prepare for surgery and recovery
  • An opportunity to connect with former patients to ask questions and share experiences
  • Accommodations throughout treatment for complex medical problems

Spine Program patient stories

Caroline Cappelletti: Learn how Caroline stayed on pointe despite scoliosis.

Nora Casper: Meet Nora, who was diagnosed with congenital scoliosis at just 5 months old.

Jessie Freeland: Learn about Jessie's experience with spine surgery.

Who we treat at the Spine Program

We care for babies, children, teens and young adults who are dealing with spinal conditions. We are the only spine program in our region capable of caring for any pediatric spinal condition, no matter the severity or complexity.

Learn more about the spinal conditions we treat.

Contact the Spine Program

For appointments at Anschutz Medical Campus, North Campus or South Campus, call 720-777-6600.

For appointments at Outpatient Care at Briargate, Colorado Springs, call 719-305-9060.

If you would like to speak to one of our pediatric spine nurses, please call 720-777-6962.

Cartoon image of a patient and doctor having a telehealth call.

Keeping you safe, wherever you are

We're here when you need us with the same safe, high-quality care we've always offered, even during the pandemic. Now, in many cases, you can get that care without even leaving home because we offer virtual visits across every one of our specialties.

See if telehealth is right for your child


Get to know our pediatric experts

Mark Erickson, MD

Mark Erickson, MD

Orthopaedic Surgery

Ryan Ballard, PA-C

Ryan Ballard, PA-C

Physician Assistant

Molly Buerk, PA-C

Molly Buerk, PA-C

Physician Assistant

Sumeet Garg, MD

Sumeet Garg, MD

Orthopaedic Surgery

Looking for a second opinion?

If your child has a fracture, orthopedic tumor, spinal condition, sports injury or other orthopedic condition, we can help you feel confident about their care.

Get a second opinion from our pediatric experts

Dr. Frank Scott, Chief of Hand Wrist & Elbow at Children's Hospital Colorado, examines a young girl's hand and wrist.

Children's Colorado in the news

  • Wyoming News Now
    Rodeo rider recovers from scoliosis surgery and returns to the saddle
    February 02, 2021

    Only six weeks after Ashley underwent surgery to correct the curvature of her spine, she was able to ride her horse again. Hear how the surgery helped this Wyoming high school student reduce pain, increase confidence and improve her riding abilities.

  • 7News
    New scoliosis surgery allows student athlete to keeping playing softball
    December 31, 2020

    When Ashley’s parents noticed her uneven hips and shoulders, the family found Dr. Mark Erickson. He offered the option of a newly approved scoliosis surgery that would help Ashley retain flexibility while straightening her developing spine over time. Watch a demonstration of the surgery.

  • CBS4
    Teenager now lives pain free thanks to a robot-assisted spine surgery
    September 26, 2020

    Dr. Mark Erickson diagnosed Katie with a stress fracture in her spine after a gymnastics accident at age 12. Using sophisticated software, Dr. Erickson and our team programmed a robotic arm to assist with placing screws in Katie’s spine. With a more precise, accurate and safe surgery, patients like Katie can become pain-free.