New device used to lengthen man’s leg

| 24/02/2019
CNS Local Life
Robert Smith is back at work after leg-lengthening surgery (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

(CNS Local Life): For the first time in the Caribbean, surgery using a novel “magnetic nail” device to lengthen a leg has resulted in less pain and improved walking ability for a long-suffering patient. Health City Cayman Islands (HCCI) Chief Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr Alwin Almeida, and his medical team, performed the procedure using the device, which has been available in the US but not the Caribbean.

Caymanian Robert Smith was in pain for more than 20 years as a result of a car accident which left his right femur, or thigh bone, one inch shorter than the left. During a recent post-operative period following surgery at Cayman Islands to correct an extensive left shoulder rotator cuff tear, he mentioned his prior injury to Dr Almeida. He told the doctor that the shortened limb caused severe pain, as well as damage to his hip and knee joints despite multiple surgeries over the previous 15 years.

“It was actually what people might call a coincidence. I call it a blessing,” said Smith in an HCCI press release. “I’d actually torn my left rotator cuff about a year and a half ago and went immediately to Health City and that’s where I met Dr Almeida. He took very good care of me and everything is working great and [while] getting treatment for that injury, I told him what had happened to my leg.”

Dr Almeida had previously performed a number of limb-lengthening procedures in India using the Ilizarov apparatus, which involves wires and pins cutting through skin, occasionally resulting in pin site infections and other complications.

But after reviewing Smith’s case, the doctor felt that he would be a good candidate for an innovative, less invasive and less complex limb-lengthening surgery informally known as the “magnetic nail” procedure, which had recently become available in the US.

CNS Local Life
Robert Smith (left) with Dr Alwin Almeida during a follow-up visit (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

This procedure, Dr. Almeida said, “allows the same lengthening without disturbing the normal anatomy of your body. It is a minimally invasive technique to insert the nail into the body with small puncture wounds. That’s all there is, and even though we need to cut the bone, that is done through a minimally invasive technique.”

He added that “once the bone is cut, it is gradually lengthened over a period of time every day by about a millimeter and that causes more bone to form in between as it’s gradually distracted…using a magnetic nail.”

The prognosis for Smith is good, he added in the press release. “Right now, he has achieved the bone union… and we are allowing the regeneration to consolidate and it’s reaching a stage where there is more and more bone forming in there. I will leave the nail inside for another year before I take it out.”

As for any adjustment for Smith, the patient said, “I don’t feel my body being imbalanced. I am still working on my gait or the way that I walk and that’s simply because of just really getting used to a new leg. It’s weird for so many years I have been so used to walking imbalanced so my body is basically learning how to walk balanced again.”

He also praised the care he received at Health City. “In terms of professionalism and capability I don’t think I could ask for better. They’ve gotten the job done, but more than that, just interacting with Dr Alwin (as he is known) and the medical team has been a joy because they make you feel comfortable. They actually have an excellent way of asking you questions. You can see that they really have a concern about you as a patient and I think that’s what makes the difference.”

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Category: Medical and Health

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They are simply the best!! Gene Thompson and his family deserves an Award for bring them here.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So fantastic!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is awesome! Congrats to the doctors at Health City.