Distance from the magnification device contributes to differences in lower leg length measured in patients with TSF correction

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2022 Jul;142(7):1511-1522. doi: 10.1007/s00402-021-03831-1. Epub 2021 Mar 6.


Introduction: In absence of deformity or injury of the contralateral leg, the contralateral leg length is used to plan limb lengthening. Length variability on long-leg weight-bearing radiographs (LLR) can lead to inaccurate deformity correction. The aim of the study was to (1) examine the variability of the measured limb length on LLR and (2) to examine the influence of the position of the magnification device.

Materials and methods: The limb lengths of 38 patients during deformity correction with a taylor-spatial-frame were measured retrospectively on 7.3 ± 2.6 (4-13) LLR per patient. The measured length of the untreated limb between LLR were used to determine length variability between LLR in each patient. To answer the secondary aim, we took LLR from a 90 cm validation distance. A magnification device was placed in different positions: at the middle of the 90 cm distance (z-position), 5 cm anterior and 5 cm posterior from the z-position, at the bottom and top of the validation distance as well as 5 cm medial and 15 cm lateral from the z-position.

Results: The measured length variability ranged within a patient from 10 to 50 mm. 76% of patients had a measured limb length difference of ≥ 2 cm between taken LLR. Compared to length measurement of the 90 cm test object with the magnification device in the z-position (90.1 cm), positioning the device 5 cm anterior led to smaller (88.6 cm) and 5 cm posterior led to larger measurements (91.7 cm). The measured length with the magnification device at the bottom, top, medial or lateral (90.4; 89.9; 90.2; 89.8 cm) to the object differed not relevantly.

Conclusions: High variability of limb length between different LLR within one patient was observed. This can result from different positions of the magnification device in the sagittal plane. These small changes in positioning the device should be avoided to achieve accurate deformity correction and bone lengthening. This should be considered for all length and size measurements on radiographs.

Keywords: External fixator; Lengthening; Limb length; Long-leg radiographs; TSF.

MeSH terms

  • External Fixators*
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Leg Length Inequality* / diagnostic imaging
  • Leg Length Inequality* / etiology
  • Leg Length Inequality* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome