Allograft Lengthening, Institute for Limb Preservation
The length of residual limb is an important factor in fitting a person with a prosthesis. At times, there is little choice a trauma surgeon can make in determining where a limb needs to be amputated - the decision is made by the amount of limb damage a person has sustained during the traumatic accident.
If a limb is too short to fit with a prosthesis, or the type of prosthesis that can be fit is not one that a patient can manage, an allograft lengthening procedure can be considered.
In this procedure a allograft bone (from a deceased donor) is obtained from a bone bank. Because each bone of the body has a unique shape, the bone obtained from the bone bank is most often the same bone that is being reconstructed. For instance, if an amputee had a below knee amputation that needs to be lengthened it would be the tibia bone that needs lengthened. Therefore, a tibia bone will be requested from the bone bank due to the improved ability to match a tibia to another tibia.
Allograft lengthening is possible for both upper extremity and lower extremity amputation. The amount and quality of the bone of the residual limb, the patient's desired function, and the ability to fit a person with a prosthesis after the procedure are the factors that help guide the decision about lengthening.
X-ray of patient with above elbow amputation. The patient was unable to use a prosthesis on this side because the limb was too short.
Example of allograft humerus (arm bone). The bone is cut to the length needed for the revision.
X-ray of patient after the allograft is added to the patient's residual limb.