Outcomes of Limb Lengthening With Computer-assisted Hexapod External Fixators in the Treatment of Fibular Hemimelia


Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, vol.43, no.7, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1097/bpo.0000000000002436
  • Journal Name: Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Keywords: fibular hemimelia, hexapod fixator, limb lengthening
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Fibular hemimelia (FH) represents the most common deficiency of the long bones and is associated with multiple deformities. Reconstructive treatment with external fixators in FH restores normal lower extremity alignment and length with plantigrade feet for a balanced and effective gait. The aim of this study is to evaluate the outcomes of lower limb lengthening and simultaneous tri-plane deformity correction with a computer-assisted hexagonal external fixator in children with FH. Methods: A retrospective review was performed for FH cases treated with a computer-assisted hexagonal external fixator in a tertiary referral center. Leg length discrepancy (LLD), interphyseal angles, tibiocalcaneal distances, healing index (HI), and callus shapes were analyzed for radiologic evaluation, and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) was used for functional assessment. Limbs with HI <50 days/cm, PedsQL >75, and without regenerate fractures were considered successful lengthenings. Results: Twenty-four limbs of 23 patients were included. The limbs were lengthened for a mean of 7.24 cm (range, 4.7 to 15.6). The initial LLD of 5.6 cm (range, 0.5 to 19 cm) increased to 1.7 cm (range, 0.1 to 6 cm), and the mean interphyseal angle was 12.7 degree (range, 1.5 to 54.2 degree), tibiocalcaneal distance was 0.85 cm (range, 0.1 to 1.7) at final follow-up. The most common regenerated bone morphology was cylindrical, as seen in 11 limbs (45.8%). The average PedsQL score was 83.5 (range, 69.5 to 96.7). Sixteen limbs (66.7%) had successful lengthening at their first, and 4 limbs (80%) had successful lengthening at their second surgeries. Seven limbs had complications requiring surgical intervention (29.1%), with 3 (12.5%) regenerate fractures after external fixators removal. Conclusions: Limb reconstruction with computer-assisted hexapod fixators is a successful and reliable option for the treatment of LLD in FH, and patients demonstrate good functional outcomes. Surgeons should be aware of potential complications and should utilize prophylactic measures when necessary. Levels of Evidence Level III, retrospective comparative study.