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General Orthopaedics

Comparison between upper and lower limb lengthening in patients with achondroplasia

a retrospective study

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Lengthening of the humerus is now an established technique. We compared the complications of humeral lengthening with those of femoral lengthening and investigated whether or not the callus formation in the humerus proceeds at a higher rate than that in the femur. A total of 24 humeral and 24 femoral lengthenings were performed on 12 patients with achondroplasia. We measured the pixel value ratio (PVR) of the lengthened area on radiographs and each radiograph was analysed for the shape, type and density of the callus. The quality of life (QOL) of the patients after humeral lengthening was compared with that prior to surgery. The complication rate per segment of humerus and femur was 0.87% and 1.37%, respectively. In the humerus the PVR was significantly higher than that of the femur. Lower limbs were associated with an increased incidence of concave, lateral and central callus shapes. Humeral lengthening had a lower complication rate than lower-limb lengthening, and QOL increased significantly after humeral lengthening. Callus formation in the humerus during the distraction period proceeded at a significantly higher rate than that in the femur.

These findings indicate that humeral lengthening has an important role in the management of patients with achondroplasia.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor H-R. Song; e-mail:

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