Scoliosis Surgery for the Growing Spine

Shilla Procedure, MAGEC Rods

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Metal rods implanted during surgery can stop the progression of severe scoliosis in young children. Duke pediatric spine surgeons are among the few in the Southeast to offer MAGnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC) growing rods and the Shilla procedure. Unlike other expandable spinal implants that must be surgically lengthened every six months, these devices expand and correct spinal curves without additional invasive procedures. 

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The Latest Scoliosis Surgery Options

Growing rods are designed to decrease the severity of your child’s spinal curve, support their spine, and prevent the curve from worsening. Unlike spinal fusion surgery, which is not appropriate for younger children, they allow your child’s spine and chest cavity to continue growing.

The Shilla Procedure

A small portion of your child’s spine is straightened and fused, and metal rods are attached to either side of the spine above and below the curve. The rods, which help to correct the spinal curvature, are designed like a track-and-trolley system. This allows your child’s spine to grow more naturally. Although additional procedures to lengthen the rods are not required, a follow-up surgery may be needed to remove or replace the system once your child is finished growing. 

MAGEC Growing Rods

MAGEC growing rods are titanium metal rods with an internal motor guided by magnets. During surgery, two rods are implanted -- one on either side of your child’s spine. In follow-up appointments, a remote control is placed on the outside of your child’s back. It communicates with the magnets inside the rods and painlessly extends them as needed. After your child has finished growing, the rods will be removed and replaced with solid rods during surgery.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Candidates for Scoliosis Growing Rods

Children with severe idiopathic scoliosis -- a side-to-side curve in the spine -- often need surgery to correct their spinal deformity. Your child may be a candidate for scoliosis growing rods if they are early in their growth cycle -- usually under age 10 -- and their spinal curve cannot be corrected with nonsurgical treatments. Our pediatric scoliosis experts perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine which procedure is right for your child. 

Physical Exam and Medical History

Your child’s doctor will perform a physical exam and will ask about their health history. Girls may be asked questions about menstruation, as this information can help determine where they are in their growth cycle.

Traditional X-Ray

X-ray imaging shows joints and bones in your child’s back and helps your doctor measure the degree of their spine curve. X-rays of the hand can help determine where they are in their growth cycle. These tests take a few minutes and are painless and noninvasive. 


Duke was the first center in the state to offer this specialized X-ray, which uses significantly less radiation than traditional X-rays. The entire body can be imaged at once, from both the front and side, and it can be done while your child is standing.

MRI or CT Scans

MRIs and CT scans create more detailed, 3D images of the spine, including the discs, nerves, and spinal cord. They take about 30 to 60 minutes and are virtually painless.

Growing Rod Surgery Recovery

Your child will remain in the hospital for two or three days to recover. Most children can return to school after two weeks. 

Children who have the Shilla procedure can participate in sports and other activities after six weeks. Those with MAGEC growing rods may need to wear a brace for three months after surgery. When the brace is removed, they can return to their normal activities. In most cases, the rods are surgically removed, and permanent rods are placed when your child’s spine has stopped growing or their doctor determines that treatment is complete.

Follow-up Appointments for MAGEC Growing Rod Expansion
Your child will have follow-up appointments every three to four months. During these visits, their doctor will use an external electronic remote control to lengthen the rods. This non-invasive, painless process takes a less than a minute.

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Why Choose Duke

One of the Few Centers to Offer Advanced Scoliosis Rod Surgeries
Duke is one of the few centers in the region to offer MAGEC growing rods and the Shilla procedure. Our skilled spine surgeons have undergone specialized training and have fine-tuned their techniques to reduce the length of your child’s hospital stay.

Low-Radiation Imaging 
Duke uses the EOS imaging system whenever possible, which limits your child’s exposure to radiation. This is especially helpful for children with scoliosis, who may need periodic X-rays for years.

Team of Specialists
Our spine experts have advanced training and experience diagnosing and treating many types of scoliosis. Your child's care team may include pediatric neurosurgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons, general surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, and many others. 

Best Children's Hospital in NC

Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties.

This page was medically reviewed on 06/20/2023 by