Magnetic Resonance Imaging Safety of Magnetically Controlled Growing Rods in an In Vivo Animal Model

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Study Design.

Experimental animal study.


To investigate the interaction between magnetically controlled growing rods (MCGRs) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Summary of Background Data.

Growing rod treatment through serial operations results in adverse effects on the patient and high treatment costs. MCGRs can be lengthened noninvasively in an outpatient setting and with lower treatment costs. When MRI investigation is required, the interaction between MCGRs and MRI is an issue of concern in patients with MCGRs. This study investigated MRI compatibility of MCGRs in an in vivo setting.


The study was conducted on three sheep. A standard posterior approach was used. One polyaxial pedicle screw at the ends was placed. Two sheep were instrumented unilaterally and one bilaterally with MCGRs. Temperature change was measured using MR-compatible sensors. Thoracic and lumbar MRIs were obtained using a 0.3 T MRI unit. MRI waves were applied for 45 minutes and temperature changes were recorded every 3 minutes. The lengths of the MCGRs were measured and anteroposterior and lateral spine radiographs were obtained pre- and postoperatively.


No displacement in the positions of the MCGRs occurred. The lengths of the MCGRs did not change compared with the preoperative length. The ability of the MCGRs to elongate was not impaired after MRI scanning. There was a mean increase in the temperature of the MCGRs by 1.45°C (0.5–2.4°C). The MCGRs had a strong scattering effect on MRI of the related segments.


This study indicated that lower magnet MRI is safe in an animal model with MCGRs, with no displacement of the rods and no changes in their length, no significant heating, and no adverse effects on the lengthening mechanism but with a significant scattering effect on visualization of the surrounding tissues. Further investigations are needed to clarify the exact distance where an MRI investigation of distant organs may be done without scattering.


Level of Evidence: N/A

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