How is the limb lengthening process carried out in the child and in the adult?

Lengthening of a limb in a child or an adult is based on the same theoretical principles: that the interrupted bone is subjected to measured force in terms of intensity and direction. Once absolute stability of the bone segments has been obtained, a regenerative process is established, not only of the bone tissue, but also the soft parts (blood vessels, nerves, tendons, muscles), vascular integrity is maintained, allowing complete functionality.

Stability is obtained by means of application of trans-osseous wires and external bows that are connected to each other by rods; function is established, for example of the lower limb, simply by ambulation. The Ilizarov technique completely respects vascular integrity.

The surgically-interrupted bone segment (Osteotomy) is subjected to continuous distraction force of approximately 1mm per day. Active mobilization and ambulation is prescribed. The gradually increasing distance between the epiphysis and the metaphysis is where bone tissue is formed, known as “regenerated bone.

Maximum lengthening achieved by means of this method was 52cm.
Both in the child and the adult, it is advisable to execute interruption of the bone segment in a highly vascularised area such as the metaphysis.