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Surgeons perform innovative operation to lengthen 11-year-old's spine
SPINAL surgeons at a North-East hospital have used remote control technology and a magnetic rod to lengthen a young patient's spine.
Middlesbrough surgeons Raman Kalyan and Waleed Hekal - who specialise in paediatric and adult spine disorders - are among the first in the country to use this pioneering technique.
The James Cook University Hospital surgeons performed the innovative procedure on 11-year-old Sarah Wascoe, who suffers from scoliosis - a severe curvature of the spine - earlier this month.
Previously, young children with severe early onset scoliosis had limited treatment options. As they continue to grow in height, their spinal curve can worsen significantly, leading to major long term consequences.
If the curvature of the spine cannot be controlled by casting or bracing, a growth preserving operation with traditional growing rods is performed, instead of fusion surgery. Traditional surgery involves surgery for rod insertion, followed by repeated operations to lengthen, the rods as often as every six months.
Mr Kalyan used MAGEC - magnetic expansion control rods - to correct Sarah's spine.
The rare earth magnets inside the rods communicate with an external remote controller which allows surgeons to adjust the rods in the outpatient department, avoiding repeated hospital admissions and surgery.
Mr Kalyan said: "This new technique is suitable for a specific type of spinal curvature in younger children from the ages of two to 11 years.
"After the insertion of the magnetic growth rod, the patient needs to come to the outpatient department every three months for lengthening of their growth rod, which will allow gradual growth of the spine and trunk; and slowly correct the curve and prevent further progression of the curve.
Sarah's father, Darren Wascoe from Middlesbrough, said: "This new procedure has made a huge difference to Sarah, she has been very brave and nothing stops her. She has just started senior school and the treatment has reduced disruption to her education and allowed her to get back to as normal a life possible very quickly.
"I would like to thank all the brilliant staff for looking after her so well, he added.
Sarah, who will be limited to light and non-contact sport activities for the next two years, said: "I am happy to have had the treatment and don't feel like I have had an operation at all. I want to thank everyone who was involved for looking after me."
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