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Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Joint surgery

Question: Will a hip replacement correct a leg length discrepancy ?

 anesidora - Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:55 am

This is really a simple question, but it may be helpful to know the unfortunate background of my condition.

To summarize, I have a congenital birth defect that caused the left leg to be shorter than the right.

At age 3, in Poland, I had an unsuccessful ilizarov operation which caused many complications. Many surgeries (13) were performed surrounding this apparatus, including lengthening the tendons, adding additional pins, and extending the apparatus below the knee. I developed a bone infection and the apparatus was removed. I broke my leg while walking, in the weak fusion point and a metal plate was inserted to stabilize the femur.
At age 4 I came the the United States and had 2 more surgeries at kaiser. One was a hip reconstruction, and the other was to remove the metal plate from my bone. Also a 6 month course of anti biotics cleared up the staff infection.

At age 8 I was seen as a patient of Shiners who performed 2 operations to slow the growth of the right leg in order to minimize the 4 inch leg length discrepancy. I currently have only a 1 inch difference between the left and right leg which I see as a huge success and a small trade off for being short (5' 4'').

The last orthopedic surgeon I saw said that I will require a total hip replacement, due to the severe hip displasia, before I am 30 (in the next 10 years).

I am wondering if this operation, will be able to correct this difference in leg length. It seems logical to me that it would, but would a special longer ball socket be needed? Any information on the topic would be helpful and I thank you for reading this!
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:04 pm

Hello anesidora,

You certainly have gone through a lot, and I'm so sorry that you have more to face. To respond to your question, the answer has to be a qualified "maybe". It really depends on the condition of the bone into which the prosthesis will be inserted. That is, if the healthy bone is long enough to allow the extra inch (or less), and whether it would result in further difficulty for you. A longer prosthesis may be possible, again depending on your bone structure. Gaining length is possible, but it depends on many factors, which your orthopedic surgeon should discuss with you when you are planning the surgery. It would require careful measurement on the surgeon's part, before and during the surgery. Once the prosthesis is cemented and set, the length will be permanent.

I admire your positive attitude! Good luck to you.

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