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Children's Orthopaedics

Callus distraction for humeral nonunion with bone loss and limb shortening caused by chronic osteomyelitis

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Nonunion of the humerus with bone loss and shortening due to osteomyelitis is rare but difficult to treat. We describe our experience with a callus distraction technique using a monolateral external fixator for the treatment of this condition.

Between October 1994 and January 2004, 11 patients were treated. There were seven males and four females, with a mean age of 14 years (10 to 17). The mean bone loss was 1.9 cm (1 to 2.7) and the mean length discrepancy in the upper limb was 5.6 cm (3.5 to 8.0).

The mean follow-up was for 106 months (54 to 166). The mean external fixation index was 34.8 days/cm (29.8 to 40.5). The mean lengthening was 9.5 cm (5.5 to 13.4). There were seven excellent results, three good and one poor. There were nine excellent functional results and two good.

The treatment of humeral nonunion with bone loss and shortening due to osteomyelitis by callus distraction is a safe and effective means of improving function and cosmesis.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor X. Zhang; e-mail: xiangshengzhang@hotmail.com

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