Limb lengthening technologies transforming lives


Dr Geoff Donald in his practice

Living with uneven legs no longer needs to be the case thanks to advances in techniques and devices now available in Australia for limb lengthening.

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Dr Geoff Donald carries out many limb lengthening cases annually and said the range of solutions available means he is undertaking a wider range of patient cases, including many that previously would have been unable to be corrected.

“We work with lower limb cases with a minimum deficiency of 2 cm and from the age of 10 years up – previously these cases would have just been sent off to a podiatrist for a temporary fix,” Dr Donald said.

While external limb lengthening techniques have been working wonders for years, internal bone treatments are transforming patient’s lives as well.

Dr Donald said the external correction system can simultaneously assist with length, angulation and rotation, while the internal systems can assist with pure length deficiencies.

The internal system is an adjustable, magnetically driven nail into the tibia or femur bone. The key to the technology is the non-invasive magnetic interaction between the implant and the external remote control to gradually expand and lengthen the implant and leg with precision. It offers the advantages of minimising soft tissues scarring, muscle tethering, inflammation and infection.

“The concealed nature of the internal system is naturally more convenient for the patient with less time in hospital and potentially less pain and discomfort,” Dr Donald said.

The newest internal limb lengthening systems are made from stainless steel meaning patients are able to weight-bear post-operatively allowing for a faster return to daily life and activities.

Dr Donald treats adults and children at St Andrew’s for both congenital and acquired problems and in recent times said he is seeing more patients with limb length deficiencies following hip and knee arthroplasty, which he said are benefiting greatly from limb lengthening surgery.