Purpose of reviewThe goal of treatment in early onset scoliosis is to correct the deformity while allowing the thoracic growth for optimal cardiopulmonary functions. Growing rods treatment is a distraction-based, growth-friendly method that is commonly used in treatment of early onset scoliosis with its specific indications. Magnetically controlled growing rods (MCGR) method has been introduced to avoid morbidity of recurrent lengthening procedures. In this review, recent developments in traditional growing rods and MCGR are summarized.Recent findingsAs the experience with growing rods increased and favorable results were reported, its indications have expanded. Recent studies focused on patient outcomes and complications. Another area of interest is the effects of growing rods in the sagittal spinal alignment. Midterm results demonstrated that MCGR treatment is promising but not free of complications. In MCGR, there is no consensus on the frequency and amount of distraction per session. Rod contouring and behavior of the magnet under MRI are major issues.SummaryGrowing rods treatment successfully controls the deformity while preserving the growth of spine and thorax, despite high complication rates. Magnetically controlled systems are introduced to avoid repetitive surgical lengthening procedures. Although preliminary results are promising, there are still significant challenges and unknowns for MCGR.