Limb lengthening and limb correction are surgical procedures that can help to correct the results of irregular bone growth that occurred in childhood, or help to repair the damage caused by an accident. In these procedures, the bone is carefully cut apart and then slowly lengthened through the growth of new bone. Angular correction can often be accomplished in this same process.
The history of limb lengthening began in the 19th century with surgeons who were dedicated to overcoming the issues of limb discrepancies and of short height. Limb lengthening science did not flourish however, until the 20th century, when Siberian surgeon G. Ilizarov discovered the phenomenon of distraction osteogenesis - the ability of bone to regenerate - to grow to fill a void created by trauma or surgery. Ilizarov invented an external fixation device for lengthening and changed lives of untold thousands of patients.
Parallel to the development of external fixation, internal fixation methods were investigated and implemented into clinical practice for the treatment of bone fractures. In 1939, German surgeon Gerhard Kuntscher performed the first surgery using an intramedullary nail. An intramedullary nail is a one piece rod that is inserted into the hollow canal of a bone to provide stabilization.
Internal fixation methods used for fractures were also applied to limb lengthening, and a new the generation of intramedullary nails and intramedullary lengthening devices came into practice. Some internal devices were able to reduce scarring, reduce pain and reduce the risk of neurovascular damage. In addition, the internal devices were often more comfortable to the patient in other aspects of everyday life.
Dr Ashberg provides a minimally invasive limb lengthening option for patients with leg length discrepancy using a motorized intramedullary device and patient controlled, external remote control .
Orthopedic Limb Lengthening & Reconstruction Resources