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Old 04.03.2011, 12:27
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Taylor spatial frame

My eldest son has bone deformities in his legs as a result of cartilage damage sustained when he contracted meningococcal septicaemia (meningitis c) when he was 8 months old.

He has a very bowed right leg, with acutely angled joints at his knee and ankle. As a result, his right leg is 5 cm shorter than his left, and he walks with a pronounced limp, his right foot angled inwards.

Despite this, he enjoys a full and active childhood, running, climbing and in particular playing football, competing with his peers and older children on a regular basis, despite being the youngest and smallest in his year. His ability has also been noted by various coaches.

The surgeons we are seeing are recommending an operation to break his leg, insert a 5cm metal extension into one side and fit a Taylor spatial frame, which sits outside his lower leg and has metal spikes that are drilled through his flesh into the bone. We will have to turn screws each day, millimetre by millimetre, to straighten and knit the bones together.

Although obviously this will correct his deformity to a large extent, it will also render him disabled for 6-12 months, unable to run or play all the games he so loves, in particular football. He may have to have this operation two or three times during his childhood. The operation also comes with many complications, not least of which is the risk of infection.

The flipside of this is that if he doesn't have the operation his deformities may get worse and cause ankle, knee, hip and back problems, although it is difficult to tell how bad it will get. At the moment it is very noticeable and looks quite acute, but despite this he rarely complains of pain and does everything that normal 7 year old boys do.

I know that this operation may be of benefit in the long run, however I am reluctant to take a healthy, active, fun loving child and reduce him to a cripple. Does anyone else have a similar experience, or know of a particularly good orthopaedic paediatric specialist surgeon from whom we could attempt to seek a third opinion?
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cartilage damage, meningococcal septicaemia, orthopaedic, paediatric, taylor spatial frame

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