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NICE considers curved spine treatment for NHS

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Children with curved spines could soon be treated with remote-controlled rods attached to their spines.

The NHS could offer youngsters with scoliosis the new treatment after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence supported its use in draft guidance.

Extendable titanium rods are attached to the ribs or spine of the child near to the curved section of the spine in a similar way to the implantation of conventional rods.

The new Magec (Magnetic Expansion Control) system does not require periodical surgical incisions to lengthen the rods but instead uses a remote device, which controls magnets in the rod to adjust its length.

This means the child will not have to undergo general anaesthetic and can have their rods altered in an outpatient clinic.

In new draft guidance, NICE has supported the use of the Magec system in children with scoliosis aged two to 11. But it only recommends the device if conventional methods such a back brace have not worked.

Professor Carole Longson, director of Nice’s Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “For children who need treatment for scoliosis, and for whom standard treatment such as a back brace hasn’t worked, surgery to implant conventional growth rods is an option. But the repeated surgical procedures that are needed to extend the rods can be difficult for the child and their family or carers, and can cause distress.

“In this draft guidance, the independent medical technologies advisory committee considered that there was evidence to support the use of the Magec system to help straighten and lengthen the spine in children aged between two and 11 years.

“By avoiding the need for the repeated surgical procedures, the committee accepted claims that the device can reduce the incidence of surgical complications and infections, cause less pain and distress and less time away from school.

“The use of Magec was estimated to potentially save the NHS around £12,000 per patient after six years compared with using conventional growth rods.”

The NICE guidance is now open for consultation.

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