Remote Control Treatment

Remote Control Treatment 1024 575 Jeb Phillips

Magnetic growing rods help patients who have early-onset scoliosis avoid repeated surgeries.

A common surgical treatment for young children with severe early-onset scoliosis is the implantation of growing rods or expandable titanium ribs. The devices are lengthened as the child grows, helping to straighten the spine. Lengthening involves surgery under general anesthesia every six months.

Magnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC) rods can be lengthened without an invasive procedure, however. After being implanted surgically, the rods are lengthened magnetically with an external remote control. This takes place during short outpatient visits and causes little or no pain.

The Magnetic Growing Rods

The rods are surgically implanted along both sides of the patient’s spine. The ends of the rods can be bent to secure to the spine’s foundation.

1. The magnets in the rods are located along the patient’s spine.

2. The locations are noted on the patient’s back for the external magnetic controller.

3. The external magnetic controller is placed over the patient’s back. The controller locates the magnets through magnetic attraction, then is placed firmly over the area. The unit is controlled manually to lengthen the rods. Typically, rods are lengthened 3 mm every 2 months.

Nationwide Children’s and Magnetic Growing Rods

The FDA approved the magnetic growing rod system in 2014. Nationwide Children’s performed it’s first MAGEC procedure in June 2015 and has now completed 10 implantations.


  1. Ellipse Technologies
  2. MAGEC Case Study


Photo Credit: Nationwide Children’s

About the author

Jeb is the Managing Editor, Executive Communications, in the Department of Marketing and Public Relations at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He contributes feature stories and research news to PediatricsOnline, the hospital’s electronic newsletter for physicians and other health care providers, and to Pediatrics Nationwide. He has served as a communications specialist at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute and came to Nationwide Children’s after 14-year career as daily newspaper reporter, most recently at The Columbus Dispatch.