Although the advent of magnetic growing rod technology for scoliosis has provided a means to bypass multiple hardware lengthening operations, it is important to be aware that many of these same patients have a codiagnosis of hydrocephalus with magnet-sensitive programmable ventricular shunts. As the magnetic distraction of scoliosis rods has not previously been described to affect the shunt valve setting, the authors conducted an investigation to characterize the interaction between the two devices.
In this ex vivo study, the authors carried out 360 encounters between four different shunt valve types at varying distances from the magnetic external remote control (ERC) used to distract the growing rods. Valve settings were examined before and after every interaction with the remote control to determine if there was a change in the setting.
The Medtronic Strata and Codman Hakim valves were found to have setting changes at distances of 3 and 6 inches but not at 12 inches. The Aesculap proGAV and Codman Certas valves, typically described as MRI-resistant, did not have any setting changes due to the magnetic ERC regardless of distance.
Although it is not necessary to check a shunt valve after every magnetic distraction of scoliosis growing rods, if there is concern that the magnetic ERC may have been within 12 inches (30 cm) of a programmable ventricular shunt valve, the valve should be checked at the bedside with a programmer or with a skull radiograph along with postdistraction scoliosis radiographs.