The limb lengthening and deformity team at Carolinas HealthCare System provides limb-lengthening services for patients affected by orthopedic issues related to trauma, infection and congenital or acquired limb discrepancies (one limb is longer or shorter than the other).

Limb lengthening is the process of mechanically lengthening one or both legs through the use of medical construction devices. The process involves gradually growing new bone and soft tissues by methodically and gently pulling apart bone and tissue as it regenerates.

There are three methods of limb lengthening:

  • External methods – the construction device is outside the body and often uses “spokes” or rods that connect to the leg from the device.
  • Internal methods – the device is entirely inside the leg and does not penetrate skin, muscles or fascia.
  • Combined methods – an external device is used during the lengthening period and later replaced by an internal rod.

Conditions that could require limb lengthening include:

  • Post-traumatic limb length discrepancies
  • Malunion of fracture
  • Bone loss
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Congenital limb length discrepancy
  • Blount’s disease
  • Fibular hemimelia
  • Femoral deficiencies