Limb lengthening is an important concept in limb deformity correction. It is a surgical technique that consists of lengthening a bone using patient’s own ability to generate new bone. Multiple techniques can be used. The most common technique is to use an external fixator device on the limb to be lengthened and gradually, after cutting or osteomizing the bone, pull the 2 osseous segments apart. The lengthening process relies on the body’s ability to lay new bone, like the process of healing a fracture.
After cutting the bone, the external fixator device holds the osseous segments in position without distraction for a period of 5 to 7 days. This period of time allows the body to deposit soft bone, called callus, to the area to be lengthened. Then the distraction period can begin until adequate length is achieved.
If deformity is present in the limb to be lengthened, it must be corrected at the same time.
Limb lengthening surgery is a versatile procedure that can help regain length after traumatic events, bone loss due to infection, and even in case of achondroplasia. It is sometimes use for cosmetic purpose, eventhough it is not widely encouraged.
Job Timeny, DPM
in Limb Lengthening and Limb Deformity Correction
Foot and Ankle Surgeon
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