One of the first surgeries treating scoliosis using the Magnetic Expansion Control device has been performed at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital earlier this week byJeffrey Sawyer, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Campbell Clinic. This was only the tenth surgery of its kind in the entire country since the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved the Magnetic Expansion Control device (MAGEC).
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine usually occurring during the growth spurt before puberty. The cause of the most common type of scoliosis is still unknown, though many medical experts believe there are hereditary factors involved. Its symptoms include an uneven waist, uneven shoulders, one hip being higher than the other,and one shoulder blade appearing more prominently. Though it’s typically mild, scoliosis can cause severe complications to the lungs and heart, as it could force the rib cage to press against them.
MAGEC gradually straightens and corrects the spine’s curve to non-invasively treat scoliosis. However, before treatment can begin, patients do need to undergo a surgical operation to have an adjustable magnetized rod implanted in their backs that can be lengthened via magnets to slowly correct the spine. This magnetic lengthening, though, requires no surgery, as it’s performed in just 15 minutes with a hand-held device every three to six months.
This new treatment method is significant, as previous treatments have been less than successful, to say the least. A whopping 40% of patients within 17 years of their surgery become severely handicapped.
“MAGEC is a true game changer in pediatric scoliosis care. Using external magnets to control a rod implanted in the spine, this type of procedure will revolutionize the way we care for children diagnosed with progressive early-onset scoliosis,” said Sawyer. “Saving a child from surgery every six months will have a significant, positive impact on their care.”