Our Location

      4302 Alton Road,
      Suite 220
      Miami Beach, FL 33140

      Limb Lengthening Surgery in Miami Beach, FL

      Aesthetic and Reconstructive Limb Lengthening

      Leg Length Discrepancy

      (Left) A discrepancy most often involves the femur or tibia. (Right) The location of the growth plates at the ends of the femur.

      What is Limb Length Discrepancy?

      Limb length discrepancy 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 discrepancy in leg length will usually become obvious to parents as they watch their children grow and begin to crawl and walk. Some children are born with legs of different lengths. In other cases, illness or injury causes a discrepancy in length to develop over time. While a slight difference in leg length may not cause symptoms, a significant difference can cause a noticeable limp and make it difficult for a child to run and play.

      Treatment for a discrepancy depends upon the severity. Because of their complexity, limb lengthening procedures are usually reserved for patients with significant discrepancies in length.

      Measuring Leg Length with a Wooden Block

      Wooden blocks may be used to measure a discrepancy in leg length.

      Causes of limb length discrepancy

      Previous Injury to a Bone in the Leg

      A broken leg bone can lead to a limb length discrepancy if it heals in a shortened position. This is more likely to happen if the bone was broken into many pieces. It is also more likely to happen if the skin and muscle tissue around the bone were severely injured and exposed, as occurs in an open fracture.

      In a child, a broken bone sometimes grows faster for several years after healing, causing it to become longer than the bone on the opposite side. This type of overgrowth occurs most often in young children with the femur (thighbone) fractures.

      Alternatively, a break in a child's bone through the growth plate near the end of the bone may cause slower growth, resulting in a shorter leg.

      Bone Infection

      Bone infections that occur in growing children may cause a significant limb length discrepancy. This is especially true if the infection happens in infancy.

      Leg Length Scanogram

      Scanogram of a 13-year-old boy. The measurements at the top indicate that his right leg is 30 mm (3 cm) shorter than his left leg.
      Reproduced from Song K (ed): Orthopaedic Knowledge Update Pediatrics 4. Rosemont, IL. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2011, p. 225.

      Bone Diseases (Dysplasias)

      Certain bone diseases may cause limb length discrepancy, including:

      • Neurofibromatosis
      • Multiple hereditary exostoses
      • Ollier disease

      Other Causes

      Other causes of limb length discrepancy include:

      • Neurologic conditions
      • Conditions that cause inflammation of the joints during growth, such as juvenile arthritis

      How Reconstructive Limb Lengthening Works

      Lengthening works by separating the bone and distracting (pulling apart) the bone segments very slowly so that new bone continues to form in the gap. As the bone segments are slowly distracted, the bone regenerates, resulting in increased length.

      Dr. Vulcano will talk with you about your treatment options and explain the risks and benefits of limb lengthening. Together, you and Dr. Vulcano will decide which procedure, if any, is best for your child.

      Lengthening of Femur

      X-ray of epiphysiodesis. Metal plates with screws have been placed around growth plates in both the femur and tibia to temporarily restrict growth.
      Reproduced from Pierz K: Limb length discrepancy in children. Orthopaedic Knowledge Online Journal 2011; 9(6). Accessed May 2016.

      Shortening of Femur

      (Left) In this x-ray, a section of bone has been removed to shorten the femur (arrow). A rod has been inserted to hold the bone in place during healing. (Right) After four months, the gap between the pieces of bone has healed.
      Reproduced from Song K (ed): Orthopaedic Knowledge Update Pediatrics 4. Rosemont, IL. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2011, p. 226.

      Femur Lengthening using External Fixator

      X-ray shows lengthening of a child's femur using an external fixator.

      Source: https://footeducation.com

      Request Your Appointment Today!

      To request your appointment, please call (305) 674-2090 or contact us online today!

      Our Location

      Ettore Vulcano, MD (Mount Sinai Medical Center)
      4302 Alton Road, Suite 220
      Miami Beach, FL 33140
      Phone: (305) 674-2090

      Orthopedic surgeon serving patients in Miami Beach, Miami, and the surrounding South Florida communities.

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