March 2012

Surgeons pioneer first remote-control internal limb lengthening system

Orthopedic surgeons at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD, recently performed the first tibial implantation in North America using a novel externally controllable internal limb lengthening system.

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 device in January at Sinai Hospital’s Rubin Institute for Advanced Ortho­- pedics, where limb lengthening specialists have now implanted eight of the devices.

The Precice Limb Lengthening System, which can be used during lengthening of the tibia and femur bones, last year became the first remote-controlled internal limb lengthening system to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Traditional bone lengthening occurs through an external adjustable fixation system attached through skin incisions. 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.

Standard and Herzenberg served on the core development team along with Stuart Green, MD, clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, Irvine. 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.

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