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Should I go for limb lengthening?

Q: I am 16 years old. I met with an accident when I was four years old and my left leg got crushed by a bus. I still have major marks of that accident, with my left leg being shorter than the right and I cannot bend it. I had read that the knee of a 21-year-old girl was completely replaced by the knee of a 52-year-old woman in AIIMS, and now she is living a normal life. Is this possible? Can I also live a normal life? I live in Jalandhar, and I don't know much about good orthopaedic hospitals in India. Where should I go for my treatment? How much will it cost? Kindly advise.

A:You have mentioned about shortening of the leg but you have not mentioned how much. Stiffness of the knee if present for a long time is difficult to correct. I have not read the report from AIIMS, but such transplants are not done. That must have been a cadaveric transplant for a tumour patient. To put in plain language, the transplant must have been done from the dead body of another patient after precautions for sterility in a cancer case. That is possible. However, in your case that is not possible. You will need to be assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon. The protocol for limb lengthening is as follows:

  1. Up to 2 cm shortening - no intervention
  2. 2 - 4 cm of shortening - shoe raise appropriately
  3. More than 4 cm of shortening can be corrected by limb lengthening. This is done by the Russian technique of Ilizarov limb lengthening. The lengthening is done at the rate of 1mm per day. so it takes a long time for lengthening and a substantial period for consolidation time. This decision to do this is taken after careful evaluation. It is available in several centres across the country. There are several good Orthopaedic surgeons in Jallandhar. Request a local orthopaedic surgeon to guide you or you could go to the Medical College Hospitals in Ludhiana. The fixator that is used will cost you about 11 to 12 thousand Rupees while the surgery cost will depend on where you are getting it done.

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