Limb lengthening in Thailand can improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from bone discrepancy and growth abnormalities, or those with shorter bones from skeletal dysplasia. The procedure can improve the ability to walk and prevent other muscular and skeletal conditions as a result of favoring one leg over another or using one arm more than the other.
While limb lengthening is a long and demanding process for patients and their families, the procedure has a high success rate, and the results are well worth it especially for children who will have the opportunity to grow and develop normally.
Three Stages of Limb Lengthening In Thailand
Limb lengthening was developed to take advantage of the body’s ability to create a new bone. The process is divided in three stages: surgery, distraction, and consolidation.
Limb Lengthening Surgery
In the initial step, the surgeon cuts the bone to be lengthened in a way that preserves the blood flow and other functional processes that help the bones to heal. Once the bone has been cut, a lengthening device is attached to the limb that will be used to create a gap in the bone during the next stage of the procedure. This device can either be external or internal.
External devices are worn outside the arm or leg, attached to the bone by pins, and lengthened with a hand-held tool. An internal lengthening device, called a PRECICE Nail, consists of a rod implanted inside the bone and lengthened with a magnetic device against the skin that causes the internal rod to expand in length. Internal devices are typically removed a year after being inserted.
Patients are required to stay in the hospital for at least one night after the surgery for monitoring. They can then rest at home for up to ten days after the procedure before starting the second step.
In the second step, the ends of the bone are gradually separated. This stimulates new bone to grow and fill the gap that continues to be created during the gradual lengthening. The nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are slowly stretched to match the lengthening limb. The clinical team at Vejthani will show the patient or family members how to lengthen the device and how far to lengthen it. This step generally takes up to two months to complete and is done at home.
During this step, the clinical team will continuously monitor the bone and surrounding tissues for any signs of complications. If they see a problem developing, they can pause the process for the body to have more time to adjust. They can also speed up the process if the body responds well to the lengthening.
Consolidation and Healing
Once the limb has reached its planned length, the body’s natural healing process continues to fill the gap with new bone. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the bone will have stretched and adjusted to their new length, and they can begin supporting the bone. Limb lengthening at Vejthani Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, can take six to nine months. If you feel that you or your child would benefit from limb lengthening, please make an appointment with our orthopedic or pediatric orthopedic center for a consultation today.
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