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Fibular Hemimelia: Comparison of Outcome Measurements After Amputation and Lengthening*
James J. McCarthy, M.D.†; Gerard L. Glancy, M.D.‡; Frank M. Chang, M.D.‡; Robert E. Eilert, M.D.‡
View Disclosures and Other Information
Investigation performed at The Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado
*No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article. No funds were received in support of this study.
†Shriners Hospitals for Children, 3551 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140.
‡The Children's Hospital, University of Colorado Health Science Center, 1056 East 19th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80218.

J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2000 Dec 01;82(12):1732-1732
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Background: Treatment of fibular hemimelia includes either Syme or Boyd amputation with early prosthetic fitting or tibial lengthening. Numerous studies have documented the success of both procedures. The purpose of our study was to compare the outcome after amputation with that after tibial lengthening, specifically with regard to activity restrictions, pain, satisfaction, complications, number of procedures, and cost, in children with fibular hemimelia.

Methods: Thirty limbs in twenty-five patients treated with either an amputation or a lengthening procedure and followed for at least two years were studied. Fifteen patients underwent amputation, and ten patients underwent lengthening of the tibia. The mean age was 1.2 years at the time of amputation and 9.7 years at the time of initial lengthening. The mean duration of follow-up was 6.9 years after the amputations and 7.1 years after the lengthening procedures.

Results: The patients who underwent amputation were able to perform more activities than those who had a lengthening (mean activity score, 0 compared with 1.2 points; p < 0.05), and they had less pain (mean pain score, 0.2 compared with 1.2 points; p = 0.091), were more satisfied and had a lower complication rate (0.37 compared with 1.91; p < 0.05). The patients who underwent amputation also had fewer procedures (1.9 compared with 7.0; p < 0.05), at a lower cost ($7016 compared with $26,900; p < 0.05), than those who had a lengthening. Lengthening was successful in equalizing limb lengths; the mean limb-length discrepancy, assessed in nine of eleven limbs, was 0.7 centimeter.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that children who undergo early amputation are more active, have less pain, are more satisfied, have fewer complications, undergo fewer procedures, and incur less cost than those who undergo lengthening. This was true even though good results were obtained with the lengthening procedures and most patients achieved limb-length equality, were able to walk, had minimal pain, and were quite active.

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    amputation ; fibula ; pain ; limb
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