limb lengthening

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An orthopaedic procedure for increasing the length of a limb (usually the leg). An external fixator is attached to the bone. This can be a circular frame surrounding the bone, which was invented by the Russian surgeon Ilizarov, or a bar down one side of the limb. The bone is divided, and the gap produced is slowly widened by moving the two ends of the frame apart; if a bar fixator is used, its body has a screw thread that is turned to increase the distance between the two ends. New bone is produced in the widening gap as the bone is stretched (see callotasis). Limb lengthening is undertaken when there is inequality in the length of the legs; for example, following trauma or resulting from paralysis in childhood. Both legs can be lengthened to increase the height of a person of excessively short stature.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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