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Orthopedic Update: Revolutionizing Scoliosis Treatment for Children

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Remote-controlled magnetic rods help avoid multiple surgeries

Overview: Hackensack Meridian Health is among a small number of New Jersey healthcare organizations that specialize in a noninvasive technique that uses remote-controlled magnetic rods to treat children with early-onset scoliosis (EOS)

Patient benefits: Until now, children with EOS typically had to undergo two invasive surgeries per year—often for five years or more.

How it works: Rods implanted near a child’s spine can be lengthened painlessly in an office setting, enabling the patient to resume activity right after the visit.

Hackensack Meridian Health is among a small number of organizations in New Jersey that specialize in the MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) System, a noninvasive technique that uses magnetic rods to treat children with early-onset scoliosis (EOS), a rare and potentially fatal condition.

The treatment, manufactured by San Diego-based NuVasive, involves attaching magnetic growing rods to one or both sides of the child’s spine, and using an external remote controller to lengthen them non-invasively as the child grows.

Implanting growing rods to treat EOS patients is nothing new, but until now, surgeons could only “distract,” or lengthen, the rods via surgery—usually every six months for five years or more.

MAGEC distractions take place in an office setting, are generally quick and painless, and allow the child to resume activity immediately after the office visit.

“Our goal is always to get a child back to their full potential. The magnetic systems allow us to correct severe scoliosis in a way that’s far less painful and intrusive than traditional means,” –  Dr. Amit Merchant, one of only a few orthopedic surgeons in New Jersey who specializes in the treatment.

Magnetic devices also help patients with a limb-length discrepancy

HMH orthopedic surgeons also specialize in PRECICE, a magnetic limb-lengthening device by NuVasive that can be implanted in a patient’s femur or tibia and adjusting via an external remote controller (ERC).

The can physician pre-program the ERC based on the patient’s lengthening needs, which allows patients to perform their own seven-minute lengthening sessions at home, rather than in a clinical setting.

Traditional methods involved attaching an external fixator or frame around the shortened limb.  While effective, it significantly affected the patient’s ability to perform daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing or exercising.