Limb Reconstruction is surgery done to correct length deformities of the legs or arms. Dr Khumalo has expertise in limb reconstruction surgery for leg deformities due to past fragmented breaks, infection, arthritis, bone loss or a non-union of a fracture. Limb deformities may also be caused by bone diseases or conditions such as Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome, Ollier's disease, posteromedial bowing of the tibia (bow leg), knock knee, post-traumatic growth arrest, hemiatrophy and hemihypertrophy.
Discrepancies in limb length are common and typically don't cause problems. Larger discrepancies in leg length may cause difficulty walking, pain and dysfunction which leads to secondary complications like tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, medial tibial stress syndrome and metatarsalgia.
When leg deformities cause complications, it may require surgical intervention to restore quality of life. Deformity reconstruction and correction is aimed at lengthening or straightening the bone and soft tissues of the leg to enhance the functioning of the leg and make the deformity as normal as possible. Limb reconstruction may be completed in a single surgery, or if complex, require multiple surgical and non-surgical methods, over a gradual period.
Non-surgical methods may be used for minor length discrepancies. Treatment best suited in these instances are shoe lifts which can be worn in the shoe to improve walking and alleviate any pain that may be caused by the limb-length discrepancy.
Surgical treatment methods will vary depending on the cause of deformity. For children with deformities such as leg discrepancy, for which the deformity is caught early on, surgery may be suitable. Surgery may be done in which tethering one side of a growth plate can help to equal the legs. By slowing the growth process of the longer leg, the other leg is given time to "catch-up", once equal both legs grow together at the same pace. For adults, leg-lengthening surgery may be done by lengthening the shorter leg with materials. This will gradually lengthen the leg bone over time to the suitable length needed.
Angular deformities may be treated surgically by cutting and realigning the misaligned bone and stabilising it into its new position with wires, screws, metal plates or external frames (external fixators).
For other deformities, slow external fixation correction may be deemed more suitable. This involves external fixation frames, which are orthopaedic surgical equipment that allows stabilisation or gradual correction of bone and joint deformities. Once a circular or rigid straight metal frame is surgically attached to the bones, the external fixators are attached to the bone through pins and wires. These external fixators hold the segment of bone in place while new tissue grows and matures.
Dr Khumalo will be able to advise which of these techniques will be best suited for your specific deformity. While deformity correction surgeries are invasive and non-surgical techniques may require adaptation, you will have pain relief and your quality of life will be drastically improved.