Leg limb length discrepancies are not uncommon as there could be a slight difference in the length of the limbs while they are growing. But when the difference becomes noticeable or we must say that the difference between limb’s length is high, the condition becomes serious and may require limb shortening surgery. As with time, the person may find it difficult to walk properly (when the discrepancy is in legs) and that is eventually followed by pain.
So, in those cases, it is important to correct the differences in the limb to avoid any serious complications. The best possible treatment to fix limb length discrepancies is limb shortening surgery and this will be our focus in this post.
Why Limb Shortening Surgery is Performed?
The goal of limb shortening surgery is to bring both limbs to equal lengths. This surgical procedure is carried out when the person has legs of different lengths. Differences in arm’s length are also seen in people, but surgery, in that case, is not generally preferred. Limb shortening surgery is most commonly preferred to correct leg length discrepancies because they are more problematic than the discrepancies seen in arms.
How Limb Shortening Surgery is Performed?
The typical limb shortening surgery is performed by cutting a portion of the bone in the longer limb to make its size the same as that of the other limb. The length of the bone to be cut will be decided based on the difference between the lengths of the limb. Once the portion of the bone is removed, the ends of the remaining bone segments are connected using Orthopedic Bone Plates and screws to let them heal properly. In certain cases, the orthopedic metal rod may be inserted into the bone that has been cut.
In children, growth plate fusion (epiphysiodesis) can be done to correct limb length discrepancies. During this procedure, the growth plates of the longer leg are fused to stop its growth or slow it down. In this way, the shorter bone can grow and reach the length of the longer leg. In this way, both legs become of equal length with time.
If the metal rod is inserted, it is generally removed after one year.
What are the Risks Associated with Limb Shortening Surgery?
There are certain associated risks with all kinds of surgeries, similarly, with limb shortening surgery, certain complications may also be seen.
If too much length is removed from the bone, the patient may feel muscle weakness throughout their life. While on the other hand, there is also a risk of non-union if ends of the bone do not heal properly. If this is the case, the patient may feel pain for months or even years.
After bone shortening surgery, the doctor may apply a cast to immobilize the limb and ensure better healing. Besides this, the patient may also be required to spend some time in the hospital under the guidance of doctors. Around nine weeks are required for a person to completely recover after limb shortening and perform activities like running & jumping without any difficulty.
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