To evaluate the safety and efficacy of a system aiming to correct scoliosis called “electromagnetically controlled shape-memory alloy rods” (EC-SMAR) used in a rabbit model.
We heat-treated shape-memory alloy (SMA) rods to achieve a transition temperature between 34 and 47 °C and a C-shape austenite phase. We then developed a water-cooled generator capable of generating an alternating magnetic field (100 kHz) for induction heating. We next studied the efficacy of this system in vitro and determined some parameters prior to proceeding with animal experiments. We then employed a rabbit model, in which we fixed a straight rod along the spinous processes intraoperatively, and conducted induction heating postoperatively every 4 days for 1 month, while performing periodic X-ray assessments.
Significant kyphotic deformations with Cobb angles of about 45° (p < 0.01) were created in five rabbits, and no complications occurred throughout the experiment. The rabbits are still very much alive and do not show any signs of discomfort.
This is the first system that can modulate spinal deformation in a gradual, contactless, noninvasive manner through electromagnetic induction heating applied to SMA alloy rods. Although this study dealt with healthy spines, it provides promising evidence that this device also has the capacity to correct human kyphosis and even scoliosis in the future. These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.