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Newer approach helps people with differences in leg length

Anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of Americans have one leg that’s longer than the other.
Anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of Americans have one leg that’s longer than the other.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – It’s estimated that anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of Americans have one leg that’s longer than the other.

While in many cases the difference isn’t noticed, it can become a problem if it’s greater than 1.5 inches.

Years ago, during a routine childhood exam, a doctor noticed there was some strange about Juan Lozano’s stride but figured it was just part of a normal growth pattern.

“It wasn’t until years later that i was diagnosed with scoliosis in middle school and even then we didn’t know why I had scoliosis,” Lozano said.

The reason eventually became clear: one leg was an inch and a half shorter than the other, a condition known as leg length discrepancy, and he was feeling the effects.

“I’m noticing that every time I go for a walk my hip is just killing me,” ge saud,

Mt. Sinai orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ettore Vulcano says the traditional approach for limb lengthening involves an external fixator, surgically implanted through skin and bone

“The downside of external fixator as efficient as it is is that it had to be around the patient’s leg or thigh for many months until you have sufficient bone healing where you can remove everything,” said Dr. Vulcano.

Vulcano utilized a newer approach where all of the lengthening technology is on the inside, rather than the outside, of the leg by implanting a magnetic telescopic rod into the bone.

The rod is then activated by the patient at home with an external motor placed on the top of the leg.

“It’s been revolutionary in terms of leg lengthening,” said Vulcano.

It takes less than a minute three times a day to achieve an inch of bone growth in just one month, a process Lozano finds amazing.

“The technology side of it is definitely fascinating i love thinking about the future I’m obsessed with the future and this is one of those things that makes you excited about where we’re going,” he said.

The total maximum growth from the procedure is three inches and can it benefit people of short stature, as well as those with leg discrepancies.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.