Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction- Orthopedics, Pediatrics

Limb lengthening and reconstruction refers to surgical procedures that treat limb deformities, fractures, and unequal leg length.

Surgeons use different techniques and devices to correct deformities and improve the function of the limbs, particularly the lower limbs.

Who Might Need Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction?

Anyone who has a limb deformity present at birth or acquired later may need it. Besides, it may also be necessary for people with fractures due to trauma.

People with any of the following conditions may benefit with limb lengthening and reconstruction:

  • Bowlegs
  • Bone defects
  • Clubfoot
  • Bowing of tibia
  • Shortening of the limb
  • Missed calf bone
  • Deformity caused by growth plate arrest
  • Abnormal growth of the wrist
  • Nonunion of the bones after a fracture
  • Pigeon toe

Note: This is not a complete list of conditions when limb lengthening and reconstruction may be necessary. Only your orthopedic surgeon can decide if you need surgery.

How Limb Deformities are Diagnosed

Before a decision for surgery or the use of a device, the doctor should first confirm the diagnosis of the condition. For this purpose, they will first perform a physical examination. During the physical examination, they may ask you to stand, flex your knees, or extend your hips.

Besides, they can order imaging tests such as X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. More advanced imaging tests like CT scan are not usually ordered. Nonetheless, they may be helpful in pinpointing the condition.

Techniques and Devices Used in Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction

The techniques and devices used may include:

  • Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) or knee replacement
  • Bone transport
  • Circular frame
  • An intramedullary nail, sometimes the nail may be coated with an antibiotic.
  • Magnetic internal lengthening nail
  • Circular external fixator
  • Humerus lengthening nail
  • Bone plate

Why It is Important to Consult an Expert

Only an expert knows what type of technique or device suits your condition. Moreover, expert consultation is necessary to plan surgery. Remember, unplanned surgery can cause failure of the procedure or suboptimal results.



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About the Author:
Shailesh Sharma is a registered pharmacist and medical content writer from Nepal. He enjoys digging into latest findings of research and strongly believes in evidence-based health information. He graduated from Pokhara University School of Health and Allied Sciences and was engaged in clinical pharmacy and academia in various regions of Nepal for almost 9 years. Shailesh also serves as Project Manager of Graduate Pharmacists’ Association, Nepal (GPAN).