It is not uncommon for a person to have one leg a bit longer than the other. If fact, most people don’t really notice any problem if the difference is less than 2 cm, and it’s very possible to manage this difference without surgery. However, if someone’s leg length discrepancy is greater than 2 cm, there is a process of assessment and management that should be undertaken.
Limb lengthening is a surgical treatment that corrects this difference between legs, correcting height proportion, balancing the patient’s gait, and addressing aesthetic concerns.
There are many benefits to limb lengthening surgery but it’s important for the patient to realize that the process requires time, patience, and precision.
During the surgery, Dr. Maine will perform an osteotomy, which is a strategic cut across the bone on the femur and/or tibia in the affected leg. She will then insert a magnetic lengthening rod and pins into the bone, which allows for controlled lengthening.
Dr. Main will also apply an external magnet over the nail that mechanizes a gear in the device and moves the telescoping rod. This magnet rotates the gears in the rod to increase the length of the limb.
After the magnetic rod and pins are in place, patients are instructed on how to adjust the rod to gradually lengthen the bone over the next three months, usually between .5 and 1 mm a day. As the bones lengthen, muscle, tendon, skin, and arteries also respond and grow.
There are three phases to the process. The first phase is called the distraction phase, which is the actual phase when the bones grow longer over time. The next phase is the consolidation phase when the bones begin to heal and calcify. The third and final phase is the recovery phase, which is when rehabilitation starts and the bones begin to bear more weight.