Shortening of a limb can be congenital, can occur in the context of metabolic disorders or syndromes, or can result from trauma and fracture. It often occurs together with an axial malalignment (bowlegs or knock-knees). Depending on the amount of the length discrepancy, different options for treatment are available.
A lengthening nail (Precice; NuVasive, Inc., San Diego, California, USA) is inserted into the bone. It can then be slowly, gradually distracted with the use of external remote control until the desired length is achieved.
If shortening of the bone is combined with a complex deformity, a six-axis external fixation frame, such as the Taylor spatial frame (Smith & Nephew, Memphis, Tennessee, USA), can be used.
Sometimes lengthening of the shorter limb is not the best choice. For minor limb-length discrepancies, or if your child is predicted to grow excessively tall, the longer limb can be prevented from further growth.
This is done by closing (destroying) one or both growth plates near the knee during a short surgery. A bone bar forms in the area of the growth plate and stops further growth from that plate.