Objective: There are several alternative methods for accomplishing epiphysiodesis of the longer limb to address limb length discrepancy (LLD). Consensus is lacking regarding the optimal timing of the intervention and which method is most efficacious. We reviewed a large group of patients with anisomelia treated by tethering with tension band plates (TBP) and who had attained skeletal maturity. We discuss our preferred timing and technique while noting the complications and how they were managed.
Materials and methods: With IRB approval, we reviewed 66 subjects including 32 boys and 34 girls, ranging in age from 3 to 16.6 years at the time of physeal tethering, who were destined to have between 2 and 9 cm LLD at maturity. Inclusion criteria were: (1) at least 1 year of predicted growth at the time of tethering; (2) minimum 18-month follow-up and (3) minimum Risser stage 1 (R1) in the last radiologic study. There were 35 distal femoral, 25 pan genu and five proximal tibial procedures. Patients were seen bi-annually with weight-bearing full-length radiographs to ascertain neutral alignment and assess limb lengths.
Results: We defined a successful outcome to be <1.5 cm of residual discrepancy. Iatrogenic mechanical axis deviation, observed in nine patients (five varus and four valgus), was successfully managed by repositioning the implants. While the under-corrected patients presented too late to achieve equalization, they benefited from partial improvement. Due to lack of timely follow-up, one patient over-corrected by 2 cm and had a femoral shortening at the time of correcting contralateral femoral anteversion. One patient required a distal femoral osteotomy to correct recurvatum at maturity.
Conclusion: Properly timed and executed, TBP is an efficacious and reversible means of growth deceleration, rather than growth arrest, that may be applied in a wide age range of patients with modest anisomelia regardless of aetiology. This method offers potential advantages over purportedly rapid and definitive techniques such as percutaneous epiphysiodesis (PE) or percutaneous epiphysiodesis with transphyseal screws (PETS).
Level of evidence: Level III. Retrospective series without controls.
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