Shriners Children’s pioneered the use of the MAGEC System for treating early onset scoliosis.
Our pediatric orthopedic surgeons were the first in the United States to introduce this gentler method for guiding the growth of the spine. We performed the first MAGEC rod implantation surgery following its FDA approval. With the MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) Spinal Bracing and Distraction System, a surgeon inserts and attaches two magnetic, telescoping rods above and below the curve of the spine.
After surgery, a physician specializing in spine care can gradually expand the rods using a magnetic remote control that is held over the spine. Magnets drive the motor of the rods to lengthen them. These outpatient sessions cause minimal discomfort.
The Innovative Alternative
With traditional growing rods, a child needs multiple surgeries throughout their childhood to lengthen the rods to keep up with their growth. With the MAGEC System for rod lengthening, the number of surgeries is greatly reduced. This leads to fewer incisions, less infection risk and fewer times undergoing anesthesia. Reducing the number of surgeries also lowers the number of X-rays a child needs.
The MAGEC System provides a way to delay spinal fusion for children from 5 to 10. In spinal fusion surgery, a surgeon attaches rods, hooks, wires or screws to the curved area of the spine and places small pieces of bone over the spine. The bone pieces will attach (fuse) to the spinal bone, straightening it into the proper position. Ultimately, a spinal fusion may still be required, as is the case with any scoliosis growing rod. The difference is that a surgeon can adjust the MAGEC rods as a child grows. Children can maintain their flexibility while their spine is braced and the growth of the curve of their spine is slowed.
Below you can learn more about the MAGEC rods surgery and recovery, and what to expect in the treatment sessions that follow a MAGEC procedure.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.
What to Expect Before and After MAGEC Rod Insertion Surgery
Several months before your child's surgery, they'll have an MRI scan at an imaging center near your home. The goal is to measure the curve of the spine and use it as a starting point for monitoring the curve as your child grows.
Within 30 days of your child’s surgery, we will provide you with an order for your child to have blood work done. The results will show us if there are signs of infection or any concerns related to the blood's ability to clot, as well as provide information about how well their kidneys and liver are functioning.
One of our anesthesiologists will call you or meet with you within seven days of the surgery. If your child is under the care of a cardiologist or neurologist, we will ask them to provide their approval that your child is in good health for the procedure.
The Night Before the Surgery
On the night before your child's surgery, they should not eat or drink anything after midnight. A member of the care team will let you know if your child should or should not take particular medications after that time. On the day of the surgery, your child should wear comfortable clothes that are easy to take off and put back on.
Most children stay overnight for three to five days after a MAGEC procedure. Rehabilitation typically isn’t required, so your child can likely return to daily activities soon after and to school a few weeks later. You child's care team will help you and your child understand what activities are safe, and how soon they may return to more intense physical activities, including sports.
The Follow Up
Approximately two weeks after surgery, you'll schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician, or their local orthopedic physician if they have one. They'll look at the incision to be sure there are no signs of infection and that healing is going well.
Six weeks after surgery, your child’s surgeon will meet with you and your child to see how they are doing. Lengthening treatments will begin three to four months after that visit. You can read more about the MAGEC lengthening treatments and ongoing care below.
Learn About MAGEC Rod Lengthening Treatments and Ongoing Care
You will hear your child’s care team use the term “distractions,” which is the medical term for the process of lengthening the rods. Approximately every three to four months, your child will return to Shriners Children’s for a short visit. During this visit, one of our spine specialists will lengthen the rods 3 to 4 millimeters using a magnet held outside the body, above the rods. This procedure takes around 10 to 15 minutes and is usually painless.
The number of distractions will vary for each child during their growing years, depending on how quickly they grow and the severity of the curve. Your child’s surgeon will remove the rods in a second surgery once your child has stopped growing, or remove and replace the rods with new ones if your child has outgrown the length of the original rods.
It's a huge blessing. It's freed him up so much to be able to move and use muscles that he wasn't able to use before.