New Technology Lengthens, Straightens and Corrects Bone Deformities | by
Bones provide the human body with a strong and flexible framework. But, for those living with bone deformities, their bones are often extremely painful, work improperly and limit their quality of life.
In this Q&A, Colorado Health & Wellness talks to Dr. David Hahn who knows bones. He is an orthopedic surgeon at Colorado Limb Consultants with Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center’s Institute for Limb Preservation. Hahn tells readers about some of the newest technology in orthopedics to straighten, lengthen and correct bones.
What is your specialty?
Dr. Hahn: I specialize in bones below the waist – the femur, knee, tibia, foot and ankle – but I also work on other areas such as the humerus bone in the arm. Some of my patients were born with a bone deformity or the deformities occurred naturally. Others experienced an injury or disease, and many had a bone that did not heal properly. I even do bone lengthening for people who want to be taller, or more often, have one leg shorter than the other.
What new treatment is available for bone lengthening?
Dr. Hahn: For people who are short on one side or who want to be taller, the PRECICE Intramedullary Limb Lengthening System is state-of-the-art technology and an enormous improvement in limb lengthening devices.
The system involves surgically implanting a custom-built magnetic titanium nail inside of bones like the femur or tibia of the legs, or the humerus in the arm. After the implant, in the comfort of home, the patient applies an external remote control with a magnetic field to the area to slowly and incrementally lengthen the nail for seven minutes a day over the course of several months depending upon the needed length. It usually takes a month to grow an inch of new bone. The nail enables soft tissue and bone to regenerate and ultimately lengthen.
The PRECICE nail gives patients excellent results. It was recently used to help lengthen a patient’s femur by four inches in just a year. Patients also like the system because it is an internal fix that is relatively pain free. It’s not an eye sore nor does it have the complications of a bulky external fixator.
What new treatment is there for complex limb conditions that frequently require amputation?
Dr. Hahn: The Osteotomy Truss System, also known simply as the Cage, is a custom titanium implant that enables orthopedic surgeons to correct complex limb conditions that have not been successfully corrected by other surgery procedures. It is a viable option for many patients with bone deformities resulting from infections, tumors or trauma, many of whom have been told amputation is their only option. It can also be used for limb lengthening in special circumstances.
The Cage was primarily used for spinal surgeries until the last three to four years, when its use began to broaden. I have successfully used the Cage to treat bone defects in places where living bone grafts were not possible because the gaps were too large.
The Cage is intricate in detail and modeled after the Eiffel Towel in Paris. Each Cage is 3D printed and custom-designed. A metal rod is inserted in the center of the truss and the two are surgically implanted to provide skeletal support. Together they function as bone would. The Cage is built to be strong and resist all kinds of force. It generally can last a patient forever after it has been successfully incorporated into the patient’s bone. I’ve implanted 23 cages in patients and helped several avoid amputations. The smallest cage was 2 inches in an ankle and the largest was 5 inches in a patient’s tibia.
How can patients learn more about the PRECICE nail or the Cage?
Dr. Hahn: Before patients consider external lengthening devices or if they’ve been told amputation is the only answer, they can contact Colorado Limb Consultants for an appointment where a thorough consultation will be provided to discuss all of the options available.
Tags: Presbyterian/St. Luke’s
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