Remote control helps bone growth

You use it to change the TV channel and now people with injured limbs can use it to change their height.

A new remote control technology enables injury victim's to stretch and mend their limbs by remote control

When Jason Carroll was 11, a football injury shattered the growth plate in his right leg.

“I heard it break and then I just remember getting pulled into the ambulance,” he said.

“As time went on he had more and more pain in the knee,” his mother Debbie Carroll added.

The damage to his growth plate led to his right leg being an inch and a half shorter than his left.

"People would ask why you limping and stuff like that,” Carroll recalled.

That's where new state-of-the-art technology comes in. "Precice" is the first FDA approved internal limb lengthening system designed with a remote control.

Dr. Shawn Standard of Sinai Hospital is one of its developers.

"It's designed to be a lot smaller, can fit into more patients with different sizes of bones."

A telescopic titanium rod is placed inside the patient's thigh bone or shin. Then a remote control magnetic generator is put over the skin where the rod's implanted for a few minutes several times a day.

"As you turn on the magnetic driver, the rod will actually pull apart and lengthen the bone,” Dr. Standard added.

Patients can expect to grow an average of a millimeter a day or a little over an inch in one month with little pain.

"It was a lot easier than I expected, like no pain with it,” said Carroll.

In under 60 days, Carroll is now back in the game standing tall on both feet.

After legs are lengthened with the Precice system, the titanium rods are removed.

The remote-controlled treatment is not for everyone.

The doctor tells us patients don't qualify if their bones aren't long or wide enough for the device.

People with significant deformities aren't candidates either.

BACKGROUND: While many people have slight differences in the length of one leg compared to the other, a significant difference between the two legs can cause problems. Leg length discrepancies can disturb the way a person walks, how his or her spine lines up and can strain hip joints. (Source: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu)

A limb length difference may simply be a mild variation between the two sides of the body. This is not unusual in the general population. For example, one study reported that 32 percent of 600 military recruits had a 1/5 inch to a 3/5 inch difference between the lengths of their legs. (Source: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org)

TYPES: There are two types of limb deficiencies.
* Congenital discrepancy: This is when children are born with one leg longer than the other. In some cases one particular part of the leg is underdeveloped or absent.

* Acquired discrepancy: This is when children are normal at birth but something happens to damage their growth plate, such as a severe fracture. The bone growth in that limb slows and results in a leg length discrepancy that increases as long as the child continues to grow. (Source: http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org)

TREATMENT: There are two current treatments for this condition. The first is called epiphyiodesis, which is a surgical procedure that arrests the growth of one or more of the growth plates of the leg. When done at the right time, this procedure allows the short leg to "catch up" and reach equality just at maturity. It is the most simple and least risky treatment, but requires precise timing to avoid over or under correction. The second treatment is called Femoral shortening. In this procedure a part of the femur is surgically removed, and internal fixation is used to stabilize the femoral segments. It is used when there is enough growth remaining to allow epiphysiodesis to be effective. (Source: http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: To cater to the population with limb deficiencies more efficiently, a new procedure was introduced, called the PRECISE Limb Lengthening Device. Dr. Shawn Standard, MD, head of pediatric orthopedics at Sinai's International Center for Limb Lengthening (ICLL), and John Herzenberg, MD, ICLL director, performed the first tibial implantation using the Precice Limb Lengthening System at Sinai Hospital's Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics, where limb lengthening specialists have now implanted eight of the devices.

The new system comprised of extension rods, a magnetic actuator, and a hand-held external remote controller, facilitates less-invasive leg lengthening through remote control adjustment of previously implanted rods. Engineers at Irvine, CA-based Ellipse Technologies invented the magnetic-powered device. Inside the rod, a miniature magnetic motor and gearbox create the force needed to lengthen the rod. The internal motor is powered by a magnetic field generator that is held next to the limb for a few minutes, several times a day. The PRECISE Limb Lengthening System, which can be used during lengthening of the tibia and femur bones, became the first remote-controlled internal limb lengthening system to receive approval from the FDA. (Source: http://www.lifebridgehealth.org and http://www.lowerextremityreview.com)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Noel Lloyd
Sinai Hospital of Baltimore
(410) 601- 5026.
nlloyd@lifebridgehealth.org


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