Direct Leg Lengthening

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Twenty patients with an average posttraumatic leg length shortening of 4.6 cm (range 2.5-9) underwent direct leg lengthening. The operation time averaged 210 min and the peroperative blood loss was 1,800 ml. Angular and rotational malalignment, when present, were corrected. Lengthening averaged 3 cm. At follow-up, two patients had serious sequelae after vascular injuries. Seven patients had postoperative neurological complications, which in four cases resolved completely. The time required for solid union of the lengthened segment averaged 10 months. Bone grafting two or more times was performed in six patients. Seventeen patients were assessed an average of 7 years (range 3-10) after surgery. Thirteen of these were satisfied with the results of the lengthening. Complications of the procedure and/or a remaining major leg length inequality could explain the dissatisfaction of the others. A majority of the patients complained of low-back pain both preoperatively and at follow-up. Few complaints about the joints in the long leg were expressed. Preoperative pain about the hip and knee in the short leg existed in more than half of the patients, and these complaints were reduced on a weak statistical level at follow-up. Walking ability improved in 12 patients, working ability in 10, and recreational activity level in eight. Direct leg lengthening is generally regarded as major, demanding surgery, entailing potential risks of serious complications, and should be used with great care and only in selected cases

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