What are MAGEC Rods?
MAGEC rods are used to treat certain types of early onset scoliosis (EOS). MAGEC stands for MAGnetic Expansion Control. Growing rods have been used to treat scoliosis for many years. Here’s how traditional growing rods and MAGEC rods differ:
- Traditional growing rods are placed into a child’s back during surgery. Because children grow so quickly, the rods need to be lengthened about every six months. Each time the rods are lengthened surgery is needed.
- The MAGEC system combines traditional growing rods with new magnet technology. MAGEC rods are put into a child’s back during surgery one time. After that, they can be lengthened in clinic using a remote control and powerful magnets. This allows a child to grow without needing repeat surgeries.
The goal with any growing rod is to stop the spinal curve from progressing. Another goal is to straighten the spine.
How Do MAGEC Rods Work?
A MAGEC rod is made with magnets and a motor inside the rod that allow it to extend. A remote control used outside of the body contains powerful magnets that “talk to” the magnets within the rod. The doctor use the remote. The remote makes the rod longer or shorter as needed.
The MAGEC system is most often used in children with scoliosis under age 8.
Children typically have the rods removed when they are 10 to 12 years old.
Your child will have an X-ray taken before surgery to get measurements.
Your child will be put to sleep (have anesthesia) before the rods are put in.
Either one or two rods will be placed into your child’s back (implanted) along the spine. The rods are put in through two small cuts (incisions) in your child’s back. The rods are attached to the spine using special hardware such as screws and hooks.
The surgery takes about two hours.
Another X-ray will be taken to record the change in measurement.
Most children stay in the hospital for two to three days after surgery.
Your child will wear a brace for three months after surgery. After the brace is removed and your doctor says it is ok, they can return to normal activity.
Lifestyle Changes with MAGEC Rods
Children with growing rods can do many of the activities they normally would. The doctor will let you know what activities your child can do when it’s safe for your child.
To avoid damaging or breaking the rods, your child should not put too much weight or stress on the back. It is important to follow these rules when your child has MAGEC rods:
- Avoid extreme sporting activities, such as gymnastics, skateboarding and jumping on trampolines.
- Children with MAGEC rods should talk to their surgeons before getting an MRI.
Talk with your doctor about any other limits your child may have.
Distraction Visits: Having MAGEC Rods Lengthened
Over time, the rods will need to be lengthened to keep up with your child’s growth. You may hear lengthening the rods called distractions.
Distractions are scheduled based on each child’s growth. Your doctor will let you know how often you’ll need to return to have the rods adjusted. It could be as often as every three months.
At these visits, the doctor will adjust the MAGEC rods using the remote control. Your child lies face down. The doctor places the remote control over your child’s spine. Magnets inside the remote cause the magnets in the rod to move and become longer or shorter as controlled by the doctor.
Distractions with the MAGEC system take about 15 minutes during an office visit. They do not cause pain.
Ultrasound is used to record changes in measurements.
The MAGEC rods are removed during surgery when:
- Your child has reached the longest length of the MAGEC rod, or
- Your child’s spine has stopped growing, or
- The doctor determines that your child has gotten the full benefit of the MAGEC rods.
After having growing rods, most children need a final spine fusion surgery to keep the correction of the deformity.
The long-term outcome depends on the degree of your child’s curve. After MAGEC rods are removed, most children will experience a straighter spine and good lung function. Most kids go on to live healthy lives.
Those who are treated for other disorders, in addition to scoliosis, may need long-term care into adulthood.
When to Call the Doctor
Call us if:
- Your child has pain in their belly.
- You notice changes in the skin near where the rods were placed.