New technology helps North Idaho boy with scoliosis - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

New technology helps North Idaho boy with scoliosis

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

3 people out of 1,000 deal with scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine. In some cases, it could mean surgery every six months, until now. There’s a new procedure being done in Spokane and that one North Idaho parent says is nothing short of magic. 

9-year-old Rielynn McCall lives in Troy, Idaho with his family. He enjoys doing what any other boy likes to do. His mother says he’s pretty active. However, life for Rielynn hasn't been all that easy. "He's kind of a one in a million kind of guy," said Rielynn's mother, Madison McCall.  That's because Rielynn has Mosaic Triploidy, a rare syndrome. It affects him from head to toe. He has a couple of different heart anomalies, he's also deaf, and has a seizure disorder. His syndrome also came with scoliosis. "If he dropped something, he couldn't bend over to pick it up," said Madison.

However, Madison said what you see today in her son, is completely different from a year ago.         

"His lungs and ribs were all the way over on his hip,” she said. Rielynn was running out of lung capacity because of his scoliosis. His mom knew she had to do something to help straighten out his spine, trying everything from casting, to braces. Rielynn wore a brace for 22 hours a day, from three-years-old until recently. "When Rielynn started growing this past year, it got to the point where the brace was no longer containing that growth and he was really digressing in his curve," said Madison.

Rielynn needed a little bit of magic. Madison packed up the car and they drove from their Troy, Idaho home to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Spokane.  "It's a full day with our visits," said Madison.

Dr. Bryan Tompkins from Shriners,  has been seeing Rielynn ever since he was a baby. He knew that Rielynn needed something stronger for his spine and that was by using 'MAGEC rods.' "It's a huge blessing," said Rielynn’s mother. 

Instead of using traditional growing rods, where rods are implanted and then patients undergo surgery every six months to get them lengthened, MAGEC rods are different. "These allow us to lengthen the rods without having to take the kids back to surgery, make an incision, close it back up and the pain and risk associated with that," said Dr. Tompkins.

Rielynn got surgery just this February to insert two MAGEC rods. Doctors will bury the titanium adjustable growing rod underneath the muscles right next to the spine. They are magnetically controlled, so every time Rielynn grows, the rods need to grow with him and his spine.

Dr. Tompkins uses a device, where the magnet will move the rods apart. “I take the device, which is basically just two magnets that spin back and forth by placing it directly over his back where that magnet is. I can turn it on and it will spin the motor inside there electrically,” he said.

It creates an electric magnetic field inside and they can predetermine exactly how much they want to grow Rielynn's rods each time. Dr. Tompkins showed a before and after x-ray of Rielynn’s spine. His x-ray before he got the MAGEC rods, shows his spine at about 66 degrees. When he gets the two MAGEC rods placed in, the after x-ray shows about 22 degrees, which Dr. Tompkins says is almost instantaneous. 

Today, the benefits for Rielynn are coming out daily. “It's freed him up so much to be able to move and use muscles that he wasn't able to use before,” said Madison.

It makes Rielynn's family happy and grateful to be going through all of this with a boy who is so patient and positive. “Rielynn's personality and his perseverance for life is definitely what I'm most proud of,” said Madison.

Life for Rielynn, can only get better. For him a little magic, has gone a long way.

The MAGEC rods will likely stick with Rielynn until he is about 18-years-old.  Dr. Tompkins will continue monitoring his progress. He says the rods won't completely get rid of Rielynn's scoliosis but it will do so much good for him that his scoliosis won't have any long-term effects for him.

You might be wondering how much all of this costs? For Rielynn and his family, it's nothing because Shriners is helping out but typically the device itself can run $15-20K.

There's also an app called "Spine Screen" that parents can use to test their children to see if they have scoliosis. It's not a medical device but rather an app that will perform a preliminary spine check on your child at home. 

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