Dr. Harrington was the surgeon whose growth rod technique and implants became eponymous in scoliosis surgery. Harrington rods are...
Growth Friendly Scoliosis Surgery
Evolution of Growth Friendly Scoliosis Surgery
Traditional scoliosis surgery involved drilling screws into the strong pedicle parts of each vertebral bone and attaching them to long, straight metal rods along each side of the spinal column. The bones of the spine would then be fused together in a corrected position; no further spine growth was possible with this early scoliosis surgery technique. Lung function was often compromised in these patients because the chest cavity was restricted in growth after spine fusion at an early age. The next generation of scoliosis surgery for children involved placing rods along the spine without fusion of the vertebral bones. The idea was to focus on and be ‘friendly’ to growth, while still treating the scoliosis. As children or teenagers grew taller, the rods would be changed out for longer ones, through multiple surgeries, roughly every six months, throughout childhood and adolescence. When adult height was reached, the spine could be fused in the corrected position. Concerns about repeated procedures under anesthesia led surgeons to search for other techniques of surgical scoliosis management.
MAGnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC™) Spinal Growing Rods, manufactured by NuVasive, are placed along the spine through
an initial surgery, but can be adjusted in an office setting without anesthesia. They have a magnetic segment that can be adjusted with a remote control device to keep up with and guide spine growth over time. In studies, the amount of curve correction is similar to Traditional Growth Rod correction, while the number of surgeries needed throughout childhood is significantly less. Both of these systems are associated with complications, such as rod breakage, that may require intervention.