Limb Deformity & Leg Length

Limb Deformity & Leg Length Correction

There are many reasons for a difference in length of the legs to occur. Many people have a minor difference and if this is less than 1 cm it is very unusual for it to be a problem. If minor symptoms occur on the leg or back then this can be adjusted by adding a small lift to the shoe.

As the difference increases it will inevitably cause problems and will need treatment. Large differences are caused by many congenital and developmental conditions. The sequelae of infection and trauma can also cause a difference in leg length or an angular deformity. Sometimes a change in angle of the leg can be more troublesome than a pure length difference. The following is an outline of the treatments available but for more specific details please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Epiphyseodesis

This is the term to describe stopping a growth plate (the growing part of a bone). When one leg is shorter than the other this operation will be used to stop the growth of the longer leg. The timing is crucial and is calculated to allow the shorter leg to ‘catch up’ by the time that growth stops.

Guided growth

A device called an 8- plate is used to control angular growth of bones. A metal plate and 2 screws are applied across the growth plate of the affected bone and with time the angle will change and straighten the deformity. The plate can then be removed and the bone will continue to grow straight.

Acute correction

Surgery is used to divide the bone at the site of a deformity and correct the angulation in one step. Metal such as wires, pins or plates are used to stabilise the bone until healing occurs. Plaster casts may be required as well.

External frame correction

For more complex deformities the correction is achieved gradually using special external fixator frames. The bone is divided and then by turning components on the frame the deformity is corrected over a period of several weeks. This treatment is highly specialised and time consuming but excellent results can be achieved.