Idiopathic scoliosis, or abnormal spine curvature, typically develops in young, female individuals greater than 10 years old. In young...
Spinal Growing Rods
Evolution of Spinal Growing Rods
Traditional growing rods are intended for young patients with significant growth potential and a high risk of spinal deformity progression in the setting of scoliosis. Severe spinal deformity can cause limitations in lung growth, heart problems, and other life-threatening conditions. Traditional growing rod treatment for young patients with moderate to severe scoliosis involves an initial surgery to place hooks and/or screws and rods in a child’s back to help control the progression of the scoliosis curve. Because children are growing during treatment, an operation is required approximately every 6 months in order to lengthen the rods to accommodate the child’s growth.
Generally, patients with traditional growing rods undergo multiple distraction surgeries after the initial surgery which can cause an increased chance of postoperative infections, increased psychological distress, and increased exposure to x-rays and anesthesia. Typically, once the spine has reached its maximum length, and their chest is matured, the temporary rods and screws/hooks are removed and a spinal fusion is performed to permanently straighten the scoliosis and stabilize the spine.
The NuVasive MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) device allows scoliosis patients to undergo similar treatment to traditional growing rod procedures, but with noninvasive distractions. It works by using external magnets to control a rod implanted in the spine and is for children diagnosed with progressive early onset scoliosis who have not benefited from nonsurgical treatments.
With the MAGEC system, the patient can have the lengthening done in the office without anesthesia. There is typically no pain during the lengthening, no additional incisions or bandages, and the child can get back to activities immediately as tolerated. Overall, this procedure decreases the chance of infection, risk of anesthesia, as well as the anxiety, cost, and time experienced with repetitive surgeries. This has completely changed how we treat a young child with progressive scoliosis.