Differences in the length of upper and/or lower arms and legs are called limb length discrepancies. Most people have slight differences with no impact on their lives. Greater differences, especially in the legs, require limb lengthening and limb correction surgery to help correct irregular bone growth that occurred before birth or in childhood, or to repair the damage caused by an accident or tumor removal.
In these procedures, the bone is carefully cut apart and then slowly pulled apart to allow growth of new bone. The ability of bone and tissue to regenerate, filling voids created by trauma or surgery, is known as osteogenesis. Angular correction can often be accomplished in this same process.
Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons at Batson Children's Hospital, a part of Children's of Mississippi, are among leaders in this specialty, offering cutting-edge techniques and treatment plans using external or internal fixators. External fixators are devices attached to the bone by wires or pins protruding outside the body. The latest in internal fixators includes an internal lengthening device (nail) that provides stabilization as new bone grows to lengthen the tibia and femur to a preset length.
Some of the many conditions resulting in limb length differences are listed below. It is not a complete list of conditions that can be treated by our pediatric orthopaedic specialists.