Boy undergoes limb lengthening surgery, grows 12 inches tall | india | Hindustan Times
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Boy undergoes limb lengthening surgery, grows 12 inches tall

Born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, 16-year-old Snehal Tirkhey was less than 3 feet tall. Besides his short stature, his upper and lower limbs were of disproportionate length, causing hindrance in performing basic activities like pulling his socks and wearing shoes.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2014 00:13 IST

Born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, 16-year-old Snehal Tirkhey was less than 3 feet tall. Besides his short stature, his upper and lower limbs were of disproportionate length, causing hindrance in performing basic activities like pulling his socks and wearing shoes.

After an extensive lower limb lengthening procedure, Snehal is now taller by 12 inches. Also his arms have been proportionately lengthened by 4 inches.

Arare genetic disorder of the bones, achondroplasia is roughly found in 1 in 25,000 people. The average height of an adult with achondroplasia is just 52 inches.

Achondroplasia is a defect of bone formation which literally means "without cartilage formation". This defect arises when the body is not equipped to convert cartilage to bone.

"The boy underwent an extensive procedure to increase the length of his bones, both in the upper and lower limbs in 3 stages over a nine-month period. In the first stage, leg bone tibia was lengthened by 6 inches. In the 2nd stage, his thigh bone femur was lengthened by 6 inches. So, overall, he gained in height by 12 inches (1 foot).

"After the second stage, the patient was not able to tie even his shoe strings because now the upper limb was much smaller in comparison to his lower limbs. In the third stage his arm bone (i.e. humerus) was lengthened by 4 inches to make the upper and lower limbs proportionate to each other, so that the patient could perform his daily activities," said Dr Rajeev K Sharma, senior consultant, Department of Orthopedics, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

The procedure that was used to increase the length of bone in this boy is called Illizarov Procedure, named after its pioneer Gavriil Abramovich Illizarov, a Soviet orthopedic surgeon.

It is used to treat open or complex bone fractures, correction of deformities of the limbs, bone infections, treatment of malunited fractures and limb lengthening.

"The apparatus used for the Illizarov Procedure comprises of an Illizarov Fixator which has rings, rods and wires. New bone is formed in between the corticotomised bone surfaces which are carefully and gradually pulled in a controlled manner using the fixator. Over time, this process helps in bone growth between bone ends.

"The entire procedure is minimally invasive as it uses wires to fix the bones to the rings. It involves less tissue damage and ensures quick recovery. After the procedure, the Illizarov Fixator is removed. The procedure is followed by rehabilitation and extensive physiotherapy," explained Sharma.