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Management of Late-Onset Tibia Vara in the Obese Patient by Using Circular External Fixation

Stanitski, Deborah; Dahl, Mark*; Louie, Kevin; Grayhack, John


Summary: Previously published series of surgery for late-onset tibia vara reported a significant number of complications and fair or poor results. Obesity in many of these patients makes surgical intervention an even more daunting prospect. Circular external fixation is applicable to almost any limb size and allows weight bearing as tolerated, with gradual adjustment of alignment. Twenty-five tibiae in 17 patients who exceeded their ideal body weight by ≥50% underwent correction of late-onset tibia vara with the Ilizarov technique. Average age at surgery was 11 years 7 months (range, 7 years 8 months to 15 years 11 months). Mean varus deformity was 27° (range, 10-55°). Treatment time averaged 12 weeks in patients without lengthening and 16.9 weeks in those requiring lengthening (mean, 3.5 cm). All patients achieved alignment within 5° of normal. Complications included one delayed union, premature consolidation in one, and two residual limb-length inequalities. There were no cases of osteomyelitis, compartment syndrome, or nerve palsy. These results are a significant improvement over reports of traditional methods in these difficult patients.

From the Department of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan; *Gillette Children's Hospital, St. Paul, Minnesota; private practice, San Francisco, California; and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Study conducted at Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. D. F. Stanitski, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Children's Hospital of Michigan, 3901 Beaubien Blvd., Detroit, MI 48201, U.S.A.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.