The University of Hong Kong medical faculty is the first in the world to successfully use a remote-controlled device in a breakthrough treatment of scoliosis in children. In a clinical trial, the device was implanted in a five-year-old in November and a 12-year-old last month. Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves from side to side. Conventional treatment in severe cases requires multiple surgeries, which are invasive, leave scars and lead to lengthy hospital stays and recovery. The new treatment requires one surgery and outpatient visits. The device developed in the United States uses a motorised magnetic rod that is attached to a patient's spine, and a mechanical device that helps to move the rod is placed on the skin. The remote control activates the external device, lengthening the rod internally, which corrects the curvature in the spine and thus removes the necessity for further surgery. It takes less than 30 seconds, no anaesthetic is required and a patient can go home the same day. Professor Kenneth Cheung Man-chee, of HKU's orthopaedics and traumatology department, said it could help reduce the number of surgeries. 'If each patient has to undergo surgery every six months, a five-year-old has to undergo at least 14 surgeries to correct the spinal curvature and this can take up to the age of 12,' he said. Carol Lee, the 12-year-old patient, said: 'It is better now. I feel my spine getting straighter.' Her mother said she did not want her daughter to undergo surgery every six months. 'The wounds would just be healing and she would have to undergo surgery again.' Scoliosis is common among children aged 10 to 16 in Hong Kong, but it is rare in those who are younger. HKU says one or two children in 10,000 may suffer scoliosis at the age of five or below. The university is now seeking 10 to 20 patients aged five to 10 to join the clinical trial, which is expected to take three years.