Limb Disorders

Pediatric Orthopedics

Limb Disorders

Contact Information 

Pediatric Specialty Clinic

(608) 263-6420


For Physicians 

Physicians who would like to refer a patient should contact the Access Center:

(800) 472-0111



 Limb-lengthening Surgery Reduces Leg Pain Stemming from Polio

UW Health's pediatric orthopedics program provides surgical treatment for a wide variety of limb disorders in children, including lower extremity lengthening, correction of upper and lower extremity deformities and reconstructive surgery after bone cancer treatment.
For every case, our physicians aim to restore the limb's appearance and function, including alignment, strength, and range of motion, with as little pain as possible. Highly individualized treatment plans consider the child's age, specific disorder and growth potential and patterns - both now and in the future.
Lower Extremity Lengthening and Deformities
Whether the result of a congenital defect, developmental disorder, infection, or injury, our surgeons use a multitude of techniques, both traditional and ground-breaking, to correct leg length discrepancies and deformities in children. We understand the importance of correcting lower extremity problems early to prevent he development of arthritis later in life.
The established method of limb lengthening and deformity correction requires surgeons to make a small fracture in the child's bone and connect the bone segments to a fixator. Adjusting the fixator gradually separates the bone segments, and new bone forms in the gap.

Correcting Limb Deformity with Guided Growth

Images of legs before guided-growth treatment for leg deformities
X-ray of legs after successful guided-growth treatment

This series of x-rays and photographs (above) shows successful guided-growth treatment for a child with leg deformities.

Staples aroud the leg's growth plates help redirect leg bones during growth

Staples implanted around the leg's growth plates helped redirect the leg bones as the child grew, thereby correcting the deformity.

UW Health's pediatric orthopedic surgeons have extensive experience performing this technique, either acutely or gradually. They use a variety of fixation devices based on the type of deformity and the child's unique needs and include:
  • Traditional external fixators
  • Internal limb lengthening rods
  • Advanced computer-guided spatial frame fixators (which can correct deformities from multiple angles)
Our surgeons are also pioneering the use of guided-growth techniques to correct limb deformities. By placing small, rigid implants around growth plates, they can gradually redirect the limb. Guided growth techniques work with the body's natural growth patterns, are much less invasive than traditional surgery, and offer excellent results.
Upper Extremity Deformities
Our pediatric surgeons also perform many types of corrective surgery for congenital and posttraumatic upper extremity deformities. Because the upper extremities are not used for walking and weight bearing, there is less risk of arthritis developing later in life. Surgical treatment, however, still aims to restore appearance and function, and may include:
  • Osteotomy and internal fixation to correct:
    • Congenital shoulder and elbow deformities, such as joint contracture from arthrogryposis, rotational defects, or chronic stiffness
    • Wrist deformities resulting from growth plate injuries or growth arrest
    • Elbow deformities resulting from fractures (including "gunstock" deformities)
  • Open reduction and soft tissue reconstruction for radial head dislocation
Oncological Reconstruction
Caring for children with musculoskeletal tumors, whether benign or malignant, is a collaborative effort between our pediatric orthopedic surgeons, an orthopedic oncologist, musculoskeletal radiologists, and pediatric hematology/oncology specialists.
If a child has a malignant tumor that can be treated surgically, our orthopedic oncologist and pediatric orthopedic surgeons work together to remove it and reconstruct the limb using state-of-the-art bone grafting techniques or metal prostheses. Our pediatric orthopedic surgeons may also perform additional surgery if the limb grows incorrectly, a deformity develops, or the reconstruction itself needs repair.