UNDATED (WJRT) -
(08/20/14) - Imagine if one of your legs was longer than the other. It might not sound like a serious problem, but it could lead to severe hip or back pain if not treated.
There's a new way to permanently lengthen legs for patients who are in pain.
College student David Pfeiffer lived with a painful problem for 12 years.
"I was walking around with one leg longer than the other," he said.
When Pfeiffer was 7, he broke his left leg. When it healed, it grew one inch longer than his right.
"It was causing like back problems, and you know, walking funny," he said.
Patients like david used to have to wear a painful external device for months. Pins pierced the skin and muscle to literally stretch the leg.
"No longer do my patients have to be condemned to wear this bulky medieval torture device outside their leg," said John E. Herzenberg, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Sinai Hospital.
With the precice limb lengthening system, a titanium rod with a magnetic motor is internally implanted in the patient's leg bone. An external remote control activates the magnets inside and gradually pulls the bone apart.
"And as these turn, it's causing the magnet inside to turn and it's slowly, slowly, slowly lengthening the leg," Herzenberg said.
Patients use the device eight minutes a day to lengthen the bone one-millimeter. The pin is removed after a year and the patient is left with completely natural human bone.
"This is what we've been waiting for my whole professional career," Herzenberg said.
After 25 days of treatment, Pfeiffer's leg grew one inch. Now he can stand tall without any pain holding him back.
So far, Herzenberg has used the system on about 100 patients. He says people from all over the world have traveled to his center to have this procedure.