This procedure uses surgery and devices to correct a leg length difference over a period of time. The process triggers bone growth and soft tissue lengthening.
This procedure may be done on people who have a length difference due to:
Leg lengthening can improve walking and lower the risk of other problems. Several inches of leg length may be added.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
This procedure will be done in stages. The first stage is a procedure called an osteotomy. An incision will be made in the leg and the bone will be cut. A leg fixation device will be selected. This will stabilize the bone while it is being lengthened. Options are:
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This stage may start a few days or weeks after the osteotomy and last for a couple of months. The body will slowly regenerate new bone in the small space that was created between the bone ends.
The bone heals during the next stage. X-rays will be taken. The fixation devices will be removed when the healing is complete.
The osteotomy can take about 2 hours.
The lengthening process can take 2 to 3 months.
Pain and swelling are common in the first few weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
The usual length of stay is 1 to 3 days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
Right after the procedure, the staff will:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
The process can take up to 6 months to complete. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You will need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Orthopaedic Association
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The Arthritis Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Klippel-trenaunay syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/klippel-trenaunay-syndrome. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Limb length discrepancy. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/limb-length-discrepancy. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Limb lengthening: An overview. Hospital for Special Surgery website. Available at: http://www.hss.edu/conditions_limb-lengthening-overview.asp. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Limb lengthening. Scottish Rite Hospital for Children website. Available at: http://www.tsrhc.org/limb-lengthening. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM Last Updated: 8/2/2021