If we talk about 3-4 decades ago, no one would have thought that someone’s height can be increased even when their growth has stopped. Besides this, there was also no reliable technique to correct the abnormality in people with unequal limb lengths. But the times have changed now and so does technology. It won’t be wrong to say that we are living in a technologically advanced world and here, there are systems that can manage even complex problems in a much better way.
Limb lengthening is an orthopedic technique that is applied to correct limb length discrepancies like increasing the length of a limb. In the current scenario, this technique is a reliable one and more than satisfactory results could be achieved. This was not the same years ago.
Why Limb Lengthening Surgery is Required?
The limb lengthening surgery is often done to correct leg length discrepancy where one leg is shorter than the other one. In this condition, the patient may find difficulty in walking, and in certain cases, the person may also experience pain.
This is a reliable technique and has shown positive results in recent years.
What Happens During Limb Lengthening Surgery
The limb lengthening surgery relies on the ability of bones and soft tissues to regenerate. For this, the surgeon cuts the bone of the limb required to be lengthened during a surgical procedure. That process is known as osteotomy. In most cases, the limb is either the upper leg or the lower leg.
After the required bone is cut, the bone fragments are stabilized using Orthopedic Implants and Instruments including External Devices like Ilizarov Ring Fixator and Rail Fixator. After the surgical procedure is finished and the required device has been applied, the doctor may suggest a rest of 5-7 days for the healing process to start. In technical terms, that period is known as the latency period. After that, the distraction phase starts where the cut bone fragments are gradually pulled apart by adjusting nuts & bolts on the external fixator. This is done to promote distraction osteogenesis. During this phase, the new bone starts regenerating in the gap created between two bone segments. The continuous growth of the new bone is achieved by increasing the gap daily around four times (0.25 mm every time). Thus, 1mm is done every day or as suggested by the doctor.
With time the newly formed bone consolidates and heals, and after that, the patient can start putting more weight on the operated limb.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
The recovery period after the limb lengthening surgery depends upon the patient to the patient. While it is seen that the time required for the recovery by children is half than that required by adults. The external fixator for limb lengthening is most commonly used in children whereas, in adults, the choice of orthopedic implant is an internal lengthening nail.
During the recovery period, physical therapy plays an important role to ensure optimum flexibility and strength of the newly formed bone & muscles. Besides this, a healthy and nutritious diet is also important during the recovery and rehabilitation period.
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