Bone lengthening is a surgical method which requires meticulous technique, continuous attention, and satisfactory cooperation on the part of the patient. The absence of common criteria makes it difficult both to classify the complications which arise, and to compare them with those of other authors.
We report the complications in a group of 61 patients who were studied prospectively. Disorders of the lengthening callus accounted for 45% of all complications, and a further 33% arose in the joints. The remainder occurred in the bone, the apparatus and the soft tissues, of which the most common were stiffness of the joints, axial deviations and loosening of the pins, while articular subluxation, fractures with angulation and delayed consolidation occurred less frequently. In our study, the overall number of complications per lengthening process was 2.1. In bilateral lengthening, the rate was 1 per segment, while in unilateral cases the mean was 2.7.
Problems which we defined as severe, requiring that the lengthening had to be halted, occurred in 1.8% of the total complications. The aetiology of the length discrepancy has an important role in the complications which occur in each segment. Over twice as many problems occur in asymmetrical lengthening procedures as in patients where lengthening is symmetrical.
CITATION Int Orthop. 1994 Oct;18(5):299-303
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