Rod Lengthening With the Magnetically Controlled Growing Rod: Factors Influencing Rod Slippage and Reduced Gains During Distractions

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Study Design.

Prospective study.


To identify the factors that are associated with rod slippage and to study the pattern of achieved length gain with a standard distraction methodology.

Summary of Background Data.

Ability to achieve successful magnetically controlled growing rod (MCGR) distraction is crucial for gradual spine lengthening. Rod slippage has been described as a failure of internal magnet rotation leading to a slippage and an inability to distract the rod. However, its onset, significance, and risk factors are currently unknown. In addition, how this phenomenon pertains to actual distracted lengths is also unknown.


A total of 22 patients with MCGR and at least six distraction episodes were prospectively studied. Patients with rod slippage occurring less than six distraction episodes were considered early rod slippage whereas those with more than six episodes or have yet to slip were grouped as late rod slippage. The association of parameters including body habitus, maturity status, age of implantation, total number of distractions, months of distraction from initial implantation, initial and postoperative Cobb angle, T1-T12, T1-S1, T5-T12 kyphosis, curve flexibility, instrumented length, and distance between magnets in dual rods and between the magnets and apex of the curve with early or late onset of rod slippage were studied. Differences between expected and achieved distraction lengths were assessed with reference to rod slippage episodes and rod exchanges to determine any patterns of diminishing returns.


Patients had mean age of 7.1 years at diagnosis with mean follow-up of 49.8 months. A mean 32.4 distractions were performed per patient. Early rod slippage occurred in 14 patients and late rod slippage occurred in eight patients. Increased height, weight, body mass index, older age, increased T1–12 and T1-S1 lengths, and less distance between magnets were significantly associated with early rod slippage. Expected distraction lengths did not translate to achieve distraction lengths and reduced gains were only observed after achieving one-third of the allowable distracted length in the MCGR. Length gains return to baseline after rod exchange.


This is the first study to specifically analyze the impact of rod slippage on distraction lengths and the risk factors associated with its onset and frequency. Increased body habitus and reduced distance between internal magnets significantly influenced rod slippage events. Diminishing returns in distracted length gains were only observed after a period of usage.


Level of Evidence: 3

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