Guided Growth Surgery
At the point children are at the level of skeletal maturity, the bones in the legs are equal in length and align correctly from the point of the hips to the ankles. However, despite this, congenital issues and certain abnormalities, infections, injuries, and other developmental problems can cause the arms, and legs to grow completely out of alignment. This misalignment of the limbs, especially the legs results in certain other deformities or conditions such as, bowlegs, knock knees or even limbs of differing lengths.
Guided Growth Plate
The guided growth plate is a device that looks similar to the number “8”, and about the size of a paper clip. The plate is screwed into the bone and it diverges similarly to a hinge, allowing for increased flexibility.
Flexibility is extremely important with these types of procedures as the screws will tend to bend or break easily under the pressure exerted by even the most normal bone growth. The growth plate will also restrict the bone’s growth to one side of a possible deformity, making sure the bone will gradually realign itself.
Guided Growth Surgery
Hemi-epiphysiodesis surgery (in which a growth plate is used) is performed under anesthesia and generally takes about an hour. During the procedure, the surgeon will make a 1-inch incision at the growth plate, through which a titanium plate is secured to the bone with two small titanium screws. For knock-knees, the device is placed on the medial side of the bone. For bowlegs, the plate is placed on the lateral side of the bone. Since the bones are never cut during the hemi-epiphysiodesis procedure, there is less neurovascular risk, decreased instability, and a shorter duration of healing.
Guided growth surgery is the preferred method for treating children’s knock knees or bowlegs, as it is much less invasive than other similar procedures. Children are even encouraged to start to put weight on their legs as soon as possible. The majority of children can return to their daily activities within 2 to 3 weeks of completing the procedure.
Most patients will definitely feel some pain as with any other procedure. However, it should decrease within 2 weeks following the surgery, and should be gone completely after 4-6 weeks. Regular follow-ups are customary; your progress will be monitored by Dr. Widmann and his staff. Once he adequately feels the deformity has been corrected and they have healed sufficiently, the plate device can be removed in a fairly quick out-patient procedure.