MAGEC® Growing Rods
Scoliosis is an abnormal curve to the spine that can worsen as your child grows. Once a curve
reaches 50 degrees, which is measured by x-ray, surgery would help your child. More than 50
degrees can lead to heart and lung problems. Growing rods help to stabilize the curve, as your
child grows. Once your child is done growing, they will have spinal fusion surgery. Your
surgeon will talk about this with you.
Before now, growing rods were implanted and about every 6 months were lengthened surgically.
This meant many trips to the operating room and many x-rays. The MAGEC® growing rods can
be lengthened from outside the body during clinic appointments. There are also fewer x-rays
needed as the lengthening process is followed by ultrasound.
Preoperative clinic visit
You will meet with your surgeon in clinic to answer questions about the procedure and process
of MAGEC® growing rods. At this appointment, your child will have a history and physical
exam, plus lab work and possibly an xray. A surgical consent form will need to be signed. Please
let us know if you are the guardian or the child’s parent. You can meet with a pediatric
anesthesiologist in the SAFE clinic, if you are interested or it is medically needed. When
scheduling your preoperative appointment, please let the clinic know if you would like a tour of
the hospital. Please bring FMLA paperwork if needed and discuss if your child needs letters or
notes for school.
The day of surgery
You and your child will check into the OR on the 3rd floor of AFCH. You will be brought to a
patient room. A pediatric anesthesiologist and your orthopedic surgeon will answer questions
you may have before starting the procedure. You may go back to the OR with your child as they
are falling asleep. General anesthesia will be used. The length of the procedure may be 4-6 hours
depending on if your child has other problems.
What monitoring is used during surgery?
To make sure your child is safe during surgery hemodynamic and spinal cord monitoring is used.
The spinal cord monitoring follows motor and sensory nerve function during the surgery to
reduce the risk of spinal cord injury or paralysis. Monitoring is closely followed by a neurologist.
If there is a change noticed, the surgery is adjusted immediately to avoid injury.
How are the rods implanted?
The MAGEC® rod systems are made up of 2 titanium spinal rods. These are surgically implanted
using pedicle screws, hooks and/or connectors. The rods have a small magnet. The magnet is
what allows the rod to lengthen without needing surgery.
Is there blood loss?
Due to the length and type of surgery, there is a risk for blood loss. Every possible precaution is
taken to decrease blood loss. Before surgery, your child’s blood type will be tested in case they
need a transfusion.
How big will the scar be?
There will be one incision along the middle of your child’s back. The length depends on their
type of curve.
How long will my child be in the hospital?
Your child will be in the hospital for 3-5 days. Physical therapy will work with you closely to
help with moving or transfer depending on what your child needs.
How is pain managed?
An IV will be placed in your child’s hand or arm during surgery. IV pain medicine will be given
through a pump that has a button for extra doses. This medicine will be managed by a pediatric
anesthesiologist. Once your child can eat normally, they will be given oral pain medicine. Before
the physical therapist comes to your child’s room, your nurse should give your child pain
The day of discharge
What pain medicines will my child use at home?
Your child will be discharged with the oral pain medicine they took in the hospital. Your doctor
and nurse will review when to take the medicine and how to wean off of the pain medicine. As
long as your child is taking opioids, make sure to give them medicine to prevent constipation. If
you are in need of a refill, please call the pediatric orthopedic clinic. Federal law states that
oxycodone prescriptions have to be written on paper.
What are my child’s activity restrictions?
Your child should not bend, twist or pick up anything for 3 months. This will help the anchored
parts of the hardware to heal. Please ask your surgeon about any specific activities or for changes
to regular physical therapy.
How much school will my child miss?
Your child may get tired easily after surgery, but should begin to feel better around 4 weeks or
sooner. Depending on your child’s comfort level, they may miss 3-6 weeks of school. At first,
your child may want to return to school part-time.
When do I change the dressing?
Instructions will be given during discharge on when the dressing should be changed. You will be
given dressing change materials when you are ready to leave the hospital.
When can my child take a bath?
Your child may bathe about 2 weeks after surgery, but should not soak their incision until 3
weeks after surgery.
Follow up appointments
How are the rods lengthened?
The magnetic portion of the MAGEC® rods is found by ultrasound and/or a magnet. An
electrically powered, motor driver is held outside of the body over the magnets in the magec
rods. The motor driver activates the magnet in the rods causing it to rotate and lengthen.
How often do the rods need to be lengthened?
Your child will have a post-operative follow up appointment as recommended by their surgeon.
The first lengthening will be 6 months after surgery. After the first lengthening, they will need to
be seen every 3 months for lengthenings.
What imaging is used during clinic visits?
Your child will need x-rays twice a year. During the lengthening visits, the magnetic portion of
the rod will be seen by ultrasound and measured before and after the lengthenings.
Will my child need new MAGEC® rods?
Depending on the age of your child and how much growing they have left, they may need larger
growing rods. There would be surgery to take out the current rods and put in larger rods.
Will my child’s spine still grow?
Yes. The MAGEC® growing rods support your child’s scoliosis to keep it from getting worse as
the child grows. The rods are lengthened which allow the spine to keep growing.
What happens when my child is done growing?
Your surgeon will let you know when your child should have a spinal fusion. The MAGEC®
growing rods and hardware will be taken out and replaced with spinal fusion hardware. A spinal
fusion is the final surgery to treat progressive scoliosis. This will correct your child’s scoliosis
curve. Spinal fusion hardware will be permanent unless there is a reason to take it out.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7794