By: 22 September 2014

A device that aims to straighten and lengthen the spine of children with scoliosis is supported in new NICE guidance.

Published in June, the medical technology guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence encourages the NHS to use the MAGEC system in children aged two years and over who need surgery to correct their scoliosis. This is specifically where standard methods to straighten the child’s spine (such as wearing a back brace) have not worked. Using the device means the child can avoid repeated surgery with the associated effects and risks – and could save the NHS an estimated £12,000 per child over six years.

The MAGEC system includes one or two extendable titanium rods which are surgically inserted and attached to the spine or ribs above and below the curved section of spine.
This procedure to implant the rods is similar to that used for conventional rods. However, the main difference is that the MAGEC system doesn’t need periodic surgical procedures in order to lengthen the rods. Instead, using a magnet and screw system that sits within the rod, the length of the MAGEC system rod can be increased using a remote control device. This can be done in an outpatients clinic, and doesn’t need a general anaesthetic.

Professor Carole Longson, Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “We are delighted to publish this guidance which can help make a real difference to children who need surgery for a curved spine. The NICE guidance advises that the MAGEC system can benefit these children with scoliosis, and save the NHS money.
“Where standard treatment for scoliosis such as a back brace hasn’t worked, the guidance says that the MAGEC system offers a real improvement over the current surgical option involving conventional growth rods. Using standard growth rods requires repeated surgical procedures, which are needed to extend the rods as the child grows. Having surgery sometimes twice a year to extend the rods can be difficult for the child and their family or carers, and can cause distress.”

She added: “The device can reduce the incidence of surgical complications, and provide other physical and psychological benefits for affected children and their families. These can include less time away from school, no need to be admitted as a hospital in–patient, and avoiding fear of repeated surgery.”