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Stanford University School of Medicine

Young patient with spinal disorder benefits from magnet technology

Last week our friends over at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford told the happy story of a little girl who, thanks to new technology, may be spared years of surgeries to treat her early onset scoliosis (EOS). As outlined in their Healthier, Happier Lives Blog:

Lawrence Rinsky, MD, chief emeritus of pediatric orthopedic surgery at the hospital, began treating Kora [Olivo] from the time she was three months old, taking x-rays twice a year and evaluating her growth to determine appropriate treatment. When she was five years old, Kora underwent a surgery in which standard growing rods were placed in her spine to begin correcting the curve. She would need to return the hospital for surgery every six months to surgically lengthen the rods, and she would require between 10 and 20 more surgeries throughout her childhood before she reached skeletal maturity.

But in 2016, a new technology changed all of that for Kora. Her standard rods were replaced with MAGEC titanium rods, which are lengthened magnetically through a non-invasive, non-surgical procedure called a distraction, which is conducted every three months in a doctor’s office. During a distraction, clinicians drag a magnet across the patient’s back to find the magnetic component of the MAGEC rod. An external remote controller is then placed on top of the magnet and turned on to expand the growing rod by three to four millimeters, depending on the patient’s growth between appointments. The entire procedure takes about 10 minutes.

The hospital is one of the only children’s hospitals in Northern California using magnetic growing rods technology, though Rinsky expects others to follow suit. “This technology is rapidly becoming the standard of care for EOS because it’s so much easier on the patients than coming in for surgery every six months,” he explained.

And 7-year-old Olivo, meanwhile, is thriving. “Without surgery, Kora has grown 5 inches in a year and a half since receiving the magnetic rods,” her mom said in the story. “It is like her bones, her back and her body are saying ‘this is where we want to be.’”

Previously: Spinal bracing for adolescents with scoliosis
Photo courtesy of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

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