Limb lengthening is a popular procedure used by several thousands of people worldwide, every year. People with contracted limbs or individuals with comparatively short stature often resort to limb lengthening treatment in order to gain a few inches added to the bone. Also known as distraction, limb lengthening can be a bit painful owing to the process by which it is performed. Limb lengthening treatment has been a blessing for innumerable people across the world, since it has blessed them with a healthy lifestyle, made them capable of achieving heights and increased their confidence manifolds.
Unlike other procedures, limb lengthening utilizes the capacity of the body itself to regenerate not only new bone, but also the nerves, tissues and muscles to provide complete support to the newly forming bone.
Gradual limb lengthening treatment can be achieved by various methods. The procedures are ideal for most candidates as they do not damage or interfere with the neurovascular tissues and muscles, thereby allowing the bone to grow individually. Hence, the different approaches to gradual limb lengthening are:
Physeal or Epiphyseal Distraction: Preferred mostly in patients who are skeletally immature, the process ideally involves a lot of restrictions. It involves distraction in the growth plates or physis which makes proper space for bone lengthening. Also known as Chondrodiastasis, the procedure was devised to facilitate 0.5 mm per day distraction to ensure metaphyseal ossification and gradual lengthening.
Distraction osteogenesis: Based on the principles of osteotomy as well as slow distraction, the procedure not only focusses on bone regeneration but also on the healthy growth of the tissues. This is achieved by gradual traction method which puts additional stress on the living tissues and thereby helps them slowly regenerate and elongate.
Osteotomy Techniques: Besides gradual procedures, several limb lengthening surgery or osteotomy techniques were also devised to facilitate elongation of limbs, which are:
Percutaneous subperiosteal Corticotomy, in blood vessels furnishing intermedullary circulation was preserved.
Subperiosteal osteotomy, which was proceeded with osteotome and several drill holes.
Percutaneous Gigli Saw method, in which Gigli Saw was used for periosteal dissection for osteotomy.
Limb lengthening surgery is often achieved with the use of internal limb lengthening device. The procedure is performed after providing general anaesthesia, which means the candidate will not feel any pain during the operation. The surgery is achieved by making two holes:
The first one is for insertion of the internal lengthening device
The second one is for cutting the bone, in order to make an additional space for bone regeneration in the gap.
The functioning of the device is checked and monitored before the punctures are sealed. The device can be monitored with the help or a remote which should be used three times per day for a prescribed period of time. The implant or the internal limb lengthening device is usually removed after a period of one or two years, as needed in case of the candidate.
The recovering time from the procedure is achieved after a period of six to nine months. The recovery period depends a lot on the growth rate of the candidate. Besides, it also depends on the follow-up care taken after the surgery, as well as on nutrition intake of the candidate.