Limb Lengthening


Limb lengthening is a surgical procedure which aims to increase the length of a limb. Most often it is applied to the lower limbs (legs) but the term also refers to the lengthening of the upper limbs(arms).

Limb lengthening is achieved with the utilization of the principle of distraction osteogenesis. The principle consists of surgically breaking the bone and then gradually lengthening (distracting) it over an internal or external fixation device. Through the natural healing response of the body , new healthy bone is formed in the developing gap resulting eventualy in increased bone length.

The methods of bone fixation for the application of distraction osteogenensis include internal fixation devices (i.e intramedullary motorized telescopic nails like Stryde, Precise and others), or external fixation devices (i.e external fixator circular frames), or combinations of both (i.e LON and LATN).

The main indications for limb lengthening are the following: Limb length discrepancy, Cosmetic limb lengthening, Achondroplasia (dwarfism) and Limb hypoplasia. Because of its complexity and potential risks, limb lengthening for cosmetic purposes is still considered a controversial treatment.

Limb lengthening is a constant mental and physical challenge for the patients. What takes a few years for the nature to achieve, we do in few months. Because of its complexity, intensity and long duration of treatment, limb lengthening does requires an established protocol and care pathway covering all phases of limb lengthening treatment (i.e Patient selection- Patient education and informed consent process – Pre-operative planning and patient preparation- Surgery- Monitoring of recovery and rehabilitation).

In Athens BJR, we have structured our care around the need to support our patients physically and mentally through all phases of limb lengthening. Our standards of care combined with  the unique Greek surroundings and mild weather offer  the most soothing and pleasant condtions for your recovery.

The Principle of Distraction Osteogenesis

The principle of distraction osteogenesis is a well-known principle since many decades. It was first discovered in the 1950’s in the former Soviet Union by Professor Ilizarov. Because of the political isolation in the years of the Cold war, it wasn’t until the 1980’that the principle was introduced to the West … Read more

Methods of Bone Fixation in Limb Lengthening

Any bone that is broken or, in the context of limb lengthening, osteotomized needs to be fixed in order to create the optimum mechanical conditions for the bone to heal. In addition, in distracton osteogenesis the fixation device must provide controllled and predictable movement of the bone… Read more

Phases of Limb Lengthening

The principle of distraction osteogenesis is described in four phases: Surgery, Latency, Lengthening, Consolidation. In addition to these, we have included remodelling…Read more

Indications for Limb Lengthening

Limb lengthening is indicated for patients with:

Short height as a result of some clinical conditions which are called dysplasias (eg, achondroplasia, hypochondroplasia). The aim in these cases is to increase the height so that the patients are comfortable with… Read more

Adverse Events in Limb Lengthening

Any medical intervention has some potential adverse events. It is the duty of the treating doctor to inform their patients about these risks in order to help them make informed decisions about their body and well being. I the context of limb lengthening we divide the adverse events into… Read more

Financial Considerations

Depending on the condition you need limb lengthening for, you may be entitled to funding by your insurer. Cosmetic limb lengthening is not funded by any insurer private or public. … Read more