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orthopaedic surgeons

Case 6: Lengthening


Written by: Dr F Birkholtz

This young gentleman presented with a right leg that was 4 cm shorter than his left. This was due to an injection he received as a child, which resulted in undergrowth of the affected leg. The patient started to complain of back pain due to the leg length difference. Leg lengthening surgery was offered.


Click on the image to enlarge

Pre-operative Xray

It is evident that there is shortening of the tibia and femur and that the tibia and femur on the right are a lot thinner than on the left. This is due to the slowing of growth after the nerve injury.

X-ray during treatment

We can see the fixators in place on the femur and tibia. After division of the bones, they were lengthened gradually (1mm per day) by the patient, resulting in lengthening of both the tibia and femur.

X-ray after lengthening

In this Xray we can see the end result, namely a femur and tibia lengthened back to their normal lengths. Good strong bone was formed at the lengthening sites. The patient was very happy with his leg of normal length and reported that his back pain has since disappeared.