A biomechanical analysis of growing rods used in the management of early onset scoliosis

Quick, Mark E., Askin, Geoffrey N., Labrom, Robert D., Adam, Clayton J., & Pearcy, Mark J. (2014) A biomechanical analysis of growing rods used in the management of early onset scoliosis. In 7th World Congress of Biomechanics, 7-11 July 2014, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Managing spinal deformities in young children is challenging, particularly early-onset scoliosis (EOS). Any progressive spinal deformity particularly in early life presents significant health risks for the child and a challenge for the treating surgeon. Surgical intervention is often required if EOS has been unresponsive to conservative treatment particularly with rapidly progressive curves. An emerging treatment option particularly for EOS is fusionless scoliosis surgery. Similar to bracing this surgical option potentially harnesses growth, motion and function of the spine along with correcting spinal deformity. Dual growing rods is one such fusionless treatment, which aims to modulate growth of the vertebrae. The aim of this study was to ascertain the extent to which semi-constrained growing rods (Medtronic, Memphis, TN) with a telescopic sleeve component, reduce rotational constraint on the spine compared with standard rigid rods and hence potentially provide a more physiological mechanical environment for the growing spine.


Six 40-60kg English Large White porcine spines served as a model for the paediatric human spine. Each spine was dissected into 7 level thoracolumbar multi-segment unit (MSU) spines, removing all non-ligamentous soft tissues. Appropriately sized semi-constrained growing rods and rigid rods were secured by multi-axial screws (Medtronic) prior to testing in alternating sequences for each spine. Pure nondestructive moments of +/4Nm at a constant rotation rate of 8deg/s was applied to the mounted MSU spines. Displacement of each level was captured using an Optotrak (Northern Digital Inc, Waterloo, ON). The range of motion (ROM), neutral zone (NZ) size and stiffness (Nm/deg) were calculated from the Instron load-displacement data and intervertebral ROM was calculated through a MATLAB algorithm from Optotrak data.


Irrespective of sequence order rigid rods significantly reduced the total ROM (deg) than compared to semi-constrained rods (p<0.05) and resulted in a significantly stiffer (Nm/deg) spine for both left and right axial rotation testing (p<0.05). Analysing the intervertebral motion within the instrumented levels, rigid rods showed reduced ROM (Deg) than compared to semi-constrained growing rods and the un-instrumented (UN-IN) test sequences.


The semi-constrained growing rods maintained rotation similar to UN-IN spines while the rigid rods showed significantly reduced axial rotation across all instrumented levels. Clinically the effect of semi-constrained growing rods evaluated in this study is that they will allow growth via the telescopic rod components while maintaining the axial rotation ability of the spine, which may also reduce the occurrence of the crankshaft phenomenon.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

20 since deposited on 21 Jul 2014
9 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 74206
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: early onset scoliosis, juvenile scoliosis, growing rods, fusionless scoliosis surgery, dual growing rods, semi-constrained growing rods, porcine spine
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING (090300) > Biomechanical Engineering (090302)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Orthopaedics (110314)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 21 Jul 2014 22:36
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2017 20:06

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page