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Proven, Innovative Treatment from World-Class Limb Lengthening Specialists

Shriners Children's experienced orthopedic surgeons are known throughout the country and the world for their skill in performing limb lengthening surgeries. The goal of this procedure to address a limb length discrepancy is clear: Preserve your child's limb function and mobility to help them participate in sports and other childhood activities and be as functional as possible as they grow into an independent adult.

Though this can sometimes be a years-long process, what you will find here at Shriners Children's is a family – both in your medical team and with parents and children who are at different points along the same path you now walk.

About the Surgery

This treatment takes advantage of the most recent advances in technology and medical care to regenerate, realign and improve the function of your child's arm or leg.

Children with different congenital or acquired problems require specialized procedures that may involve multiple surgeries. Children often require procedures to stabilize or realign joints prior to surgery to lengthen the limb. Lengthening can be achieved by the use of either an external fixation device or with one of the newer self-lengthening devices that are now available.

Shriners Children’s surgeons are highly skilled and experienced with external fixation, as well as internal devices. The internal devices often allow lengthening with less discomfort and earlier return to normal life, and are rapidly becoming the preferred method for limb lengthening, which Shriners Children’s has helped pioneer.

This treatment is most commonly performed on legs, but it can be done on arms as well.

After the Procedure

After the lengthening procedure, the internal or external device is used to lengthen the bone gradually, with new bone forming in the lengthening site. Members of the lengthening team will be with be with you and your child every step of the way, teaching you how to perform the daily lengthening, and monitoring the lengthening process. You will also be working closely with our physical therapy team to maintain motion and strength, and to adapt to the lengthening process.

Whether your child has an external fixator or internal device, physical therapy is a vital part of helping them reach their potential.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Connor absolutely loves coming to the hospital. They make childhood a part of treatment.
Meagan, St. Louis

Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD) Care at Shriners Hospitals for Children

Connor was born with PFFD, or proximal femoral focal deficiency which means one leg was shorter than the other. Learn more about his story and how Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis treats his condition!
View Transcript

Connor:

I was born with one leg shorter than the other, and I have PFFT.

Meagan:

We did not know in ultrasounds or anything like that. The pregnancy was normal. The doctor said your son has a birth defect. He has two different size legs, and they're probably going to have to amputate one of them. I'm devastated. I didn't know what to do. We went to the orthopedic doctor and she said, "I think you would be better off going to Shriner's."

Connor:

I had to get a lift and a brace. So, we came here to Shriner's,

Meagan:

When I met Dr. Gordon for the first time and he was talking to me about the process that we were going to do to get Connor lengthened, I was in tears because here's a man who is going to save my son's leg.

J. Eric Gordon, M.D.:

Proximal femoral focal deficiency is a problem in which the femur, the thigh bone, is shorter than the other side. You have to be able to sit down, look at what the projected leg length discrepancy is, look at what those other deformities or other concerns are and come up with a comprehensive approach to that, that may involve several different surgeries.

Meagan:

When he was five, he had a hip surgery and he was in a body cast from his hips all the way down to his legs. And then after his hip surgery, when he was six, so about a year and a half later, he did his first lengthening, and that was in his femur.

Connor:

My frame is what is helping me get my leg longer.

J. Eric Gordon, M.D.:

Taylor spatial frame, it has six struts on it and it is computer controlled in the sense that we have a plan that we input into a computer, and then it will give us a program of changes to the struts that we give to the patients, and they carry that out over a course of six to eight weeks sometimes.

Connor:

The pins they had on actually were drilling into my bone and pulling my bone apart so new bone can come in. And I just got my second one finished this year, and so that's three surgeries I had on my leg. I have one more before my leg is evened out. I'm doing great now. I am better. I am running, I am jumping. But the doctor still says I can't jump off of stuff, but I really do want to. Shriner's is like a second home to me. I'm happy when I come here, I get to see all the trainers.

J. Eric Gordon, M.D.:

I have the simple part in terms of doing the surgery. I'm pretty much done after that. I tell most of them, if they can do this, they can do anything in life.


patient and physical therapist during physical therapy session

Convenient, Skilled Physical Therapy

No two patients who walk in the doors of Shriners Children's are the same. That's why rehabilitation plans are personalized specifically for your child after their limb lengthening procedure. It's easy for your physician to work closely with the therapy team because they're in the same building. That means your child's care with Shriners Children's is all under one roof.

Conditions We Treat

View All Related Conditions

Limb Length Discrepancy

Shriners Children's limb length discrepancy specialists provide high-quality care designed to assist children who have a difference in the length of their arms or legs become as independent as possible.

Limb Deficiencies

Shriners Children's specializes in treating limb deficiencies, which occur when part or all of a child's limb does not completely form during pregnancy or as a result of a major injury.

Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency

Proximal femoral focal deficiency is a malformation in the hip joint and upper part of the femur (thigh bone). This malformation results in a difference in leg length and may cause gait abnormalities.

T.A.R. Syndrome

Shriners Children physicians treat TAR syndrome, a rare disorder present at birth characterized by low levels of platelets in the blood and absence of the bones of the forearms.

Amputations

Amputation due to trauma or as part of a treatment program can be a trying time for children and families, both physically and emotionally. At Shriners Children’s, our goal is to improve the function, mobility and independence of each child.

Cerebral Palsy

At Shriners Children's, our team of specialists provides individualized care for your child with cerebral palsy.

Spasticity

Spasticity is abnormal muscle stiffness, making it difficult for a child to perform coordinated movements. Doctors and therapists at Shriners Children’s provide prompt, family-centered care tailored to your child’s needs.

Neurofibromatosis

Shriners Children's physicians treat kids with neurofibromatosis by encouraging healthy growth and development and managing complications should they appear.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.