Complex limb deformity is a difference between the lengths of the arms or legs. Except in extreme cases, differences in arm length do not usually impact how the arms function and do not require treatment.
A limb length difference may simply be a mild variation between the two sides of the body. Greater differences in length, however, can affect a patient’s well-being and quality of life.
In most cases, the bones affected by a leg length discrepancy are the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone).
What Causes Complex limb deformity?
Bone Diseases (Dysplasias) : Certain bone diseases may cause limb length discrepancy, such as multiple hereditary exostoses.
Previous injury to a bone in the leg.
Conditions that cause inflammation of the joints during growth, such as juvenile arthritis.
Hemihypertrophy (one side too big) and hemiatrophy (one side too small) are rare conditions that cause limb length discrepancy. In patients with these conditions, the arm and leg on one side of the body are either longer or shorter than the arm and leg on the opposite side.
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Surgery for Complex limb deformity
Surgeries for complex limb deformity are designed to slow down or stop the growth of the longer limb, shorten the longer limb, lengthen the shorter limb.
Limb shortening in patients who are finished growing, the longer limb can sometimes be shortened to even out the leg lengths.To do this, the doctor removes a section of bone from the middle of the longer limb, then inserts metal plates and screws or a rod to hold the bone in place while it heals.
Limb lengthening is a process that gradually grows new bone. It is used to correct limb length discrepancies and congenital short statures, and is often performed in conjunction with limb deformity correction.
In children who are still growing, epiphysiodesis (guided growth surgery) can be used to slow down or stop growth at one or two growth plates in the longer leg.
The procedure is performed through very small incisions in the knee area.
The goal is to reach equal leg length by the time growth normally ends—usually in the mid to late teenage years.
Follow – Up Care
No matter which treatment you receive, regular follow-up visits to your child’s doctor are recommended. Once the bone heals, your child will need physical therapy and rehabilitation to rebuild strength, endurance and coordination of both legs.
At NSOC, we offer a wealth of ongoing support and services for your family. Our team is committed to partnering with you to provide the most current, comprehensive and specialized care possible.