Clinical Results and Complications of Lower Limb Lengthening for Fibular Hemimelia: A Report of Eight Cases

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Fibular hemimelia is a rare but the most common congenital long bone deficiency, encompassing a broad range of anomalies from isolated fibular hypoplasia up to substantial femoral and tibial shortening with ankle deformity and foot deficiency. Most cases of fibular hemimelia manifest clinically significant leg length discrepancy (LLD) with time that requires adequate correction by bone lengthening for stable walking. Bone lengthening procedures, especially those for pathological bones, are sometimes associated with severe complications, such as delayed consolidation, fractures, and deformities of the lengthened bones, leading to prolonged healing time and residual LLD at skeletal maturity. The purpose of this study was to review our clinical results of lower limb lengthening for fibular hemimelia.

This study included 8 Japanese patients who diagnosed with fibular hemimelia from physical and radiological findings characteristic of fibular hemimelia and underwent single or staged femoral and/or tibial lengthening during growth or after skeletal maturity. LLD, state of the lengthened callus, and bone alignment were evaluated with full-length radiographs of the lower limb. Previous interventions, associated congenital anomalies, regenerate fractures were recorded with reference to medical charts and confirmed on appropriate radiographs. Successful lengthening was defined as the healing index <50 days/cm without regenerate fractures.

A significant difference was observed in age at surgery between successful and unsuccessful lengthening. The incidence of regenerate fractures was significantly correlated with callus maturity before frame removal. LLD was corrected within 11 mm, whereas mechanical axis deviated laterally.

Particular attention should be paid to the status of callus maturation and the mechanical axis deviation during the treatment period in fibular hemimelia.

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