Limb Lengthening

Expert care at The Advanced Limb Lengthening Institute at the Providence Children’s Hospital

  • Modern surgical techniques provided through The Advanced Limb Lengthening Institute at Providence Children’s Hospital to lengthen or straighten deformed bone segments
  • Treatment for adult and pediatric patients with upper and lower limb issues due to trauma, birth defects, infections or tumors.
  • Orthopedic consultation, digital diagnostic services, specialized operating rooms and on-site physical therapy center

What is limb lengthening?

Limb lengthening is a surgical procedure to lengthen and/or straighten deformed bone segments or replace missing bone. It works by helping to gradually grow new bone and soft tissues (skin, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, etc.).

During limb lengthening and deformity correction, a bone that has been cut during surgery can be gradually distracted (pulled apart), leading to new bone formation. Bone segments can be lengthened by 15 to 100 percent. There are many different devices used to lengthen a bone. The most common is attached on the outside of the bone with the thin wires or pins and screws. There are also lengthening devices that are fully implanted inside the bone.

We offer limb lengthening and deformity correction through The Advanced Limb Lengthening Institute at our Memorial Campus and Providence Children’s Hospital locations. Our compassionate team of orthopedic specialists is committed to providing patients with a customized treatment plan using advanced techniques and services. We employ a variety of surgical techniques to treat upper and lower limb conditions.

Limb lengthening discrepancy

If there is a difference between the lengths of the upper and/or lower arms and the upper and/or lower legs, this is known as a limb length discrepancy. Some causes of this can include a previous injury to the bone, a bone infection, a bone disease such as Neurofibromatosis, inflammation due to arthritis and some neurologic (nervous system) conditions.

Limb deformity

There are various types of limb deformities that require treatment. For instance, a reduction deformity is the absence of a limb or part of a limb at birth. A deformity of the legs could also include bowing of the legs (also called Blount’s disease), in which the knees are abnormally separated, and knock knees, or abnormally close together. Both of these are often first noticed by a family member during early childhood.

Congenital deficiencies

These types of conditions occur when a portion or the entire upper or lower limb does not form normally when the baby is developing in the uterus. A limb may be completely missing or a portion of the limb is not separated but should be. There may be duplication (such as extra fingers or toes), overgrowth (a limb is much larger normal) or undergrowth (a limb is much smaller than normal).

Skeletal dysplasias and dwarfism

Typically, patients are born with skeletal dysplasia and dwarfisms, which includes abnormal differences in the size and shape of their legs, arms, trunk, or skull. A patient may be very short in stature, have extra folds of skin on the arms and legs, bowing of the legs or bones that break easily. Additionally, patients may also have arms and legs that are not in proportion with the rest of the body.


When a broken bone fails to heal, it is called a "nonunion." This is often due to lack of proper blood flow or lack of bone stability (bone movement) during healing. Nonunions are more likely if the bone breaks from a high-energy injury, such as from a car wreck. Patients diagnosed with a nonunion may experience pain at the fracture site or a persistent gap between the bone at the place where the bone was broken.

Joint preservation

Patients who may not need — or may not be good candidates for — a complete joint replacement, such as a knee or hip replacement, may opt for joint preservation treatment. This involves reshaping your natural joint bones using advanced arthroscopic (minimally invasive) techniques.

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