Portland, Ore.- Surgeons at Shriners Hospitals for Children®-Portland have received FDA compassionate approval, to use the Phenix Rod for the first time in North America. Beckem Nimmo, born in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada will be the first recipient.
The Phenix Rod, made of cobalt chrome, is a growing rod inserted next to the spine for the treatment of early onset scoliosis. Surgeons insert the metal rod and attach it to spine at both ends of the spinal curve. Unlike other growing rod systems which require surgery every six months to lengthen the rods, this specially designed rod can be gradually lengthened from outside of the skin, avoiding the need for general anesthesia and an incision. Parents have a magnetic device they hold over their child’s back and rotate to extend the rod. They turn the magnet once a day to lengthen the rod by 0.2mm. Over time the rod grows with the child, avoiding the need for repeat surgery to manually lengthen it.
The magnetic growing rod was designed by the French engineer Arnaud Soubeiran and used successfully in Australia and Europe. Soubeiran came personally to Portland to educate the family about the rod lengthening procedure.
Beckem is a curious and determined 5 year old who lives every moment in the present, but his life is not without complications. Born with a rare neurological disorder he has already endured surgery to release a tethered spinal cord and several noninvasive treatments for severe infantile scoliosis including a specialized casting technique and halo traction which have helped slow the progression of his curve.
“Beckem is such a great candidate for this special rod because of his age, size and the severity of his spinal curve. His additional medical issues made repeat procedures requiring general anesthesia particularly difficult,” said his surgeon J.Ivan Krajbich M.D.
In patients who have reached skeletal maturity the course of treatment is to fuse the vertebra together, however in children the course of treatment is considerably different.
“Kids are not just little adults, you can’t treat them the same way you would an adult. They need to grow and have room for their organs to grow with them too,” said Dr. Krajbich.
Beckem’s family chose to come to Shriners Hospitals for Children® in Portland to receive care for Beckem, because of the high quality of the spinal deformity program in Portland and the lengthy wait for surgery in Vancouver, Canada.
Shriners Hospitals for Children® is the only pediatric hospital system in the United States that provides care and services regardless of the patients’ ability to pay. Shriners Hospital is one of the largest pediatric sub-specialty health care systems and has the one of the largest full-time staff of pediatric orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S.