14 July 2014

Spine-Straightening Device Approved by NICE

A device that can straighten and lengthen curved spines in children, and reduce the need for repeat surgery, has been green-lit by NICE under new guidance.

A device that can straighten and lengthen curved spines in children, and reduce the need for repeat surgery, has been green-lit by NICE under new guidance.

Scoliosis is a condition diagnosed in childhood, where the spine curves and bends to one side. In most cases, the curvature corrects itself in as the child grows. Treatments are also available to stop the spine from curving further, such as a back brace, or an external plaster cast.

If neither of these methods work, growth rods are surgically inserted around the spine in a procedure performed under general anaesthetic, and which might require an overnight stay in hospital. The rods are then straightened in further periodic surgical procedures performed twice a year.

The MAGEC system is a device recommended by NICE for children aged 2 and over to correct their scoliosis, and which can help prevent the need for these repeat surgical procedures.

The device includes up to two growth rods that are surgically inserted and attached to the ribs or the spine above and below the curved section of the spine.

The rods are then lengthened using a magnet and screw system that sits within the rod, and which can be controlled via remote control. The lengthening of the rods can be carried out in an outpatients clinic, and doesn't require general anaesthetic.

NICE says that the device could save the NHS an estimated £12,000 per child over 6 years.

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."

She added: "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.

Jane Clarke, whose grandson is being treated with the MAGEC system, said: "Our child required spinal growth rods when he was eight, to counter a worsening spinal curvature. MAGEC growth rods were inserted, and for the past two years he's attended outpatients every three months to have these lengthened.

"The procedure is virtually painless, takes about fifteen minutes, and he meets other children having the same treatment, which means he feels less isolated. He has an x-ray or ultrasound, and is ready to go home after just an hour.

"Conventional growth rods would mean the pain and distress of surgery every six months: that's four operations he's avoided in the past 2 years, thanks to the MAGEC system. I hope that this new NICE guidance will help more children to benefit from this device."