A positive outcome for magnetic growth rods in severe SMA scoliosis

SMA is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases in children. It is transmitted in an autosomal recessive manner, and causes paralysis of variable severity that can lead to death at an early age. A distinction is made between four types (I to IV), depending on the age of onset of the symptoms and the maximum level of motor ability achieved by the patient.

Severe scoliosis is exclusive to early-onset forms of SMA, notably type II, and requires orthopaedic care (corset, physiotherapy, etc.), combined with spine fixation surgery, preceded or not preceded by the placement of growth rods. Once placed, these rods make it possible to stretch the spine non-invasively at regular intervals, as the child grows.

In an article published in December 2020, German orthopaedists reviewed a particular type of growth rod, controlled magnetically, and inserted surgically between the pelvis, at the bottom, and the shoulder ribs, at the top. These growth rods were tested in 17 patients with SMA, and provided significant and long-lasting correction of the scoliosis curve. The pelvic obliquity was also improved, in contrast to other deformities in the sagittal plane (kyphosis, lordosis). With data going back four and a half years, the authors emphasise that the rods maintain significant growth potential throughout this period. Complications were not common, despite a large number of stretching sessions (376).


Continuous lengthening potential after four years of magnetically controlled spinal deformity correction in children with spinal muscular atrophy. H M Lorenz, M M Hecker, L Braunschweig et al. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec. 10(1):22420.