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Children's Orthopaedics

Distal tibial osteotomy compared to proximal osteotomy for limb lengthening in children

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The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to assess and investigate the safety and efficacy of using a distal tibial osteotomy compared to proximal osteotomy for limb lengthening in children.


In this study, there were 59 consecutive tibial lengthening and deformity corrections in 57 children using a circular frame. All were performed or supervised by the senior author between January 2013 and June 2019. A total of 25 who underwent a distal tibial osteotomy were analyzed and compared to a group of 34 who had a standard proximal tibial osteotomy. For each patient, the primary diagnosis, time in frame, complications, and lengthening achieved were recorded. From these data, the frame index was calculated (days/cm) and analyzed.


All patients ended their treatment with successful lengthening and deformity correction. The frame index for proximal versus distal osteotomies showed no significant difference, with a mean 48.5 days/cm (30 to 85) and 48.9 days/cm (28 to 81), respectively (p = 0.896). In the proximal osteotomy group, two patients suffered complications (one refracture after frame removal and one failure of regenerate maturation with subsequent valgus deformity) compared to zero in the distal osteotomy group. Two patients in each group sustained obstacles that required intervention (one necessitated guided growth, one fibula lengthening, and two required change of wires). There was a similar number of problems (pin-site infections) in each group.


Our data show that distal tibial osteotomies can be safely employed in limb lengthening for children using a circular frame, which has implications in planning a surgical strategy; for example, when treating a tibia with shortening and distal deformity, a second osteotomy for proximal lengthening is not required.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2022;104-B(11):1273–1278.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr James M. Y. Chowdhury. E-mail:

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