Lengthening in congenital femoral deficiency a comparison of circular external fixation and a motorized intramedullary nail

Sheena R. Black, Michael S. Kwon, Alexander M. Cherkashin, Mikhail L. Samchukov, John G. Birch, Chan Hee Jo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: Circular external fixation for limb-lengthening is associated with frequent and numerous complications. Intramedullary lengthening devices represent a potential advance in limb-lengthening. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcomes of femoral lengthening in pediatric patients treated by either circular external fixation or a motorized intramedullary nail. Methods: All patients with a diagnosis of congenital femoral deficiency who had undergone femoral lengthening with either circular external fixation or a motorized intramedullary nail were identified. The motorized intramedullary nail (FITBONE) was used with approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on an individual compassionate-use basis. Results: Fourteen skeletally mature patients underwent fourteen femoral lengthening sessions using circular external fixation, and thirteen patients underwent fifteen lengthening sessions using the motorized nail. The amount lengthened was similar, with a mean of 4.8 cm (range, 1.0 to 7.4 cm) in the circular fixation group and 4.4 cm (range, 1.5 to 7.0 cm) in the motorized nail group. Complications occurred in all lengthening sessions in all fourteen patients managed with the circular external fixation and in 73% of fifteen lengthening sessions in the thirteen patients managed with the motorized nail. The circular external fixation group averaged 2.36 complications per lengthening session compared with 1.2 per session in the motorized nail group. Twenty-nine percent of the circular fixation group failed to achieve a lengthening goal of at least 4 cm compared with 27% of the motorized nail group who failed to reach the goal. Eight patients had undergone eleven femoral lengthening sessions with circular external fixation prior to undergoing ten lengthening sessions by motorized nail. These patients had a comparable rate of complications with both types of lengthening, but the total number of complications averaged 2.6 per lengthening session with circular external fixation compared with 1.6 per lengthening session with the motorized nail. Conclusions: A decreased number of complications was noted with use of a motorized intramedullary nail compared with circular external fixation in pediatric patients undergoing femoral lengthening for congenital femoral deficiency. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1432-1440
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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