NICE consults on a new spine-straightening device for children with scoliosis


NICE is consulting on its draft medical technology guidance on a device that aims to straighten and lengthen the spine of children with scoliosis.

According to the press release, the draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) supports the case for using the Ellipse Technologies’ Magnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC) system in children aged two to eleven years who have scoliosis, but for whom standard methods to straighten the spine have not worked. 

The MAGEC system includes one or two extendable titanium rods which are surgically inserted and attached to the spine or ribs above and below the curved section of spine. This procedure to implant the rods is similar to that used for conventional rods. However, unlike the conventional rods, the MAGEC system does not need periodic surgical incisions in the back in order to lengthen the rods. Instead, using a magnet and screw system that sits within the rod, the length of the MAGEC system rod can be increased using a remote control device. This can be done in an outpatient clinic, and does not require a general anaesthetic.

The press release reports that the device manufacturer claims that benefits of the MAGEC system include avoiding repeated surgical procedures, leading to a reduced incidence of surgical complications, including anaesthetic risk and delayed recovery and a reduction in psychological trauma to the child and family, and improved quality of life due to less time needed away from school. Based on modelling, the savings from using the MAGEC system is estimated at around £12,000 per patient after six years compared with standard growth rods.

Carole Longson, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, says, “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“In this draft guidance, the independent Medical Technologies Advisory Committee (MTAC) considered that there was evidence to support the use of the MAGEC system to help straighten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 eleven 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. We welcome comments on the draft guidance during this consultation.”