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Limb Lengthening method or surgery is called as Ilizarov method.
The process of forming new bone by slow, gentle stretching is called distraction osteo-genesis. The Ilizarov method is applicable to all extremities, but it is used most commonly in the lower extremities where alignment is more critical than in the upper extremities.
The ideal age for performing the Ilizarov method is in the preteen and teen years.
At this time, the skeleton is almost finished growing, so its final shape can be determined, yet the potential for healing and remodeling is that of a child.
In addition, the patient has the maturity to undergo an arduous treatment process.
Bone healing, however, is slower with advancing age.
Surgery (to create the osteotomy and attach the fixator) is performed with the patient under general anesthesia (bone elongation usually is performed later).
The external fixator frame is assembled on the patient's limb according to its shape and the goal of treatment.
Several PINS or rings are needed above and below the site of bone correction.
Threaded distraction rods are positioned to provide the needed correction over time.
Distraction is started 7 to 10 days post surgery (approximately the time the healing callus is 1st seen radiographically)
Continued at a rate of 1 mm per day:
Usually divided into at least 4 segments so the tissues are not stretched too suddenly
In this way, the callus is stretched slowly (distraction osteo-genesis).
Once the desired length is achieved, the new bone is allowed to strengthen, which occurs with time and weight-bearing.
The fixator is removed when the bone appears strong enough.
The total time spent in the fixator can be estimated by the lengthening index:
Time (per centimeter of length gained) needed for the process of lengthening and consolidation
Averages 1to 1.6 months/cm.
The results usually are good, although problems and complications may require additional procedures before completion.
Keep me informed if you have any queries.
Please mention pain!! My husband had this surgery in NY in August 08. Almost 5" and a corrected deformed lower foot(motor cycle accident 36 years ago) he is still trying to get the thigh muscle to go along with the new bone. He is in physical therapy 3x a week and is working full time, still on crutches. He is on pain meds, seeing a therapist and is just now starting to feel a little better about the whole process.
Yes, however he would tell you its worth it. He just bought his first pair of non- orthopaedic shoes in 36 years.