Leg lengthening is a surgery which can lengthen bones. If the leg is also deformed, it can also be straightened at the same time. Most commonly, this procedure is used to correct large limb length discrepancies.
In the surgery, the physician applies an external fixator to the leg. This fixator is a frame, which is attached to the bones by wires or pins. The surgeon makes a small break in the bone. When one turns the dial on the frame, it creates tension on the bone. By repeating this process throughout the day, the bone lengthens. The rate of lengthening is usually about 1mm per day. This process of lengthening occurs 5–10 days post-operation.
The risks include stiffness in the surrounding joints and possible infections at the location of the wires and pins. In large discrepancies, multiple lengthening may be necessary to achieve equal leg lengths.
The patient must maintain regular follow up visits to the doctor, usually bi-weekly. To reduce the occurrence of infections, the site around the pins and wires must be carefully cleaned. Additionally, the frame requires adjustment of the fixator approximately 4 times per day. Physical therapy and rehabilitation sessions are also prescribed by the physician.