Wesley Healthcare
April 21, 2016

Kansas Orthopaedic Center Surgeons S. Matthew Hollenbeck, MD and Steven Ericksen, MD

offer leading-edge treatment for early-onset scoliosis

WICHITA – Seven-year-old Leah Collins met Dr. Matthew Hollenbeck, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, almost two years ago when she came to him for care for her club foot. During the routine examination, it was discovered that Leah had another medical issue that often times is found with an underlying diagnosis of neurofibromatosis, a genetically inherited disorder of the nervous system which mainly affects the brain and spinal cord. Leah had severe scoliosis.


“I was shocked,” said Charlie Collins, Leah’s mother. “Once we felt her curved spine and looked at the x-rays it was easy to see the spine deformity. I felt like such a horrible mother. How does a mother miss this?”


Early-onset scoliosis refers to a deformity that develops before age ten and is an abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine, which in serious cases can lead to severe physical deformity, shortened trunk height, and, eventually, pulmonary and cardiac problems. While there is no cure for the disease, traditional treatments include casting, spinal bracing and spinal fusion.  


With Leah not tolerating her spinal brace for 14 hours a day and her curve progressing in size, Leah received the first MAGEC® (Magnetic Expansion Control System) rod implant surgery at Wesley.


Initially approved for Compassionate Use in 2013, the device contains a mechanism inside – a growing rod that allows surgeons to lengthen the rods with a handheld external magnet, eliminating the need for repeat surgeries.


“It’s a safe, effective treatment that eliminates the need for multiple surgeries for young children usually around ages 6 to 10 when braces and casts can’t control the scoliosis anymore,” Hollenbeck said.


The two-rod implant is typically recommended for children with early-onset scoliosis in whom spinal curves exceed 50 degrees or greater or is unable to be controlled by other noninvasive techniques. Leah’s spinal curve was at 63 degrees and after surgery is now at 24 degrees. Her family says that in just one day of having the rods implanted, they can see a physical difference.


“She sits straighter and her shoulders seem more level,” said Tyler Collins, Leah’s dad. “The physical change is amazing.”


The magnetic growing rod is attached to each side of Leah’s spine, allowing her spine to continue to grow while controlling the curve. When she reaches spinal maturity, the rods will be removed and a definite spinal fusion will then be performed.


“To be able to lengthen the growing rod while sitting in a doctor’s office instead of facing surgery every three months for many years to lengthen the rod is life-changing for these children,” Hollenbeck said.


Leah will have her first rod-lengthening procedure, which takes approximately 15 minutes, in the next three to six months. While the scoliosis didn’t prevent her from enjoying physical activities, her parents are excited to see how the surgery might impact her future success.


“She really likes to dance,” Tyler said. “We can’t wait to see if her posture and balance improves.”


Hollenbeck serves as the pediatric orthopaedic medical director of Wesley Children’s Hospital. The hospital has the area’s only pediatric surgeons, pediatric anesthesiologists and pediatric radiologists on staff.


After earning an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s degree in physical therapy from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Hollenbeck attended the University of Kansas School of Medicine and completed his five-year residency in orthopedic surgery at Greenville Health Systems in Greenville, S.C. In addition, Dr. Hollenbeck completed a pediatric orthopedic and scoliosis fellowship at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Hollenbeck did his first MAGEC rod implant during his fellowship at Rady Children’s Hospital as one of the first sites to embrace this new technology once approved by the FDA.


For more information about Kansas Orthopaedic Center, please visit www.koc-pa.com. For more information about Wesley Children’s Hospital, please visit www.facebook.com/wesleychildrenshospital.

Wesley Healthcare is the region’s leading acute care hospital network providing a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for patients throughout Kansas and northern Oklahoma since 1912.  As a leader in Overall Recommended Care in national surveys, Wesley Medical Center treats more than 24,000 patients annually and delivers more than 6,000 babies – more than any hospital in a 13-state region.  Wesley provides the most extensive emergency network in Wichita, with Wesley ER, Wesley West ER, Wesley Woodlawn ER, the region’s only pediatric ER and soon, Wesley Derby ER.  Wesley owns and operates Wesley Medical Center, Wesley Woodlawn Hospital & ER, multiple WesleyCare clinics and is currently building the region’s only dedicated children’s hospital – Wesley Children’s Hospital. To learn more about Wesley Healthcare, please visit www.wesleymc.com