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Limb Lengthening

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There are a number of conditions that can cause bones to be unequal or shorter than they need to be, and in these cases, limb lengthening is done to correct bones in the arms, legs and even the face. In most cases, the procedure used for this process is called distracting osteogenesis—and fortunately, the orthopedic specialists at the Florida Hospital Orthopedic Institute Fracture Care Center are specialists at this very procedure. They help patients understand what to expect from limb-lengthening surgery, and have the necessary expertise to perform the procedure successfully. If you or your child may need limb-lengthening surgery, contact us today. 

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Limb lengthening is a surgical procedure used to treat individuals with limbs (i.e., legs, arms, fingers and toes and other bones) of unequal lengths. A common procedure to lengthen the limbs is called distraction osteogenesis, which was originally pioneered a century ago as a treatment for unequal leg lengths, but has in recent decades been used to treat unequal mandibles (lower jaw bones) and midface hypoplasia (abnormally slow growth of the upper part of the face).

In distracting osteogenesis, the surgeon moves two parts of a bone apart slowly in a manner that allows new bone to fill in the gap, thus lengthening the bone. The surgeon makes a break in an abnormal bone and attaches a device called a distractor to both sides of the break. This distractor is slowly and gradually adjusted—about 1 millimeter per day—over a period of weeks so that the break stretches and new tissue fills the gap. Once the bone is lengthened to the correct position, it is fixed in place, and the new tissue is allowed to heal and form a new bone—in other words, forming a longer bone from a shorter one. Finally, once the new bone is sufficiently strong, the surgeon removes the distractor in a short second procedure.

Locations for Limb Lengthening