RESTORING BALANCE TO A GROWING KID Michael Macias doesn't remember the crash that shattered his leg and wrist, and broke a few other assorted bones. His last memory before waking up in University Hospital days later was inspecting his new haircut in the car mirror as his uncle drove him home from the barber's. After a few surgeries, Michael was on the mend. But one lingering problem remained. The growth plate in his right femur, or thighbone, was damaged and could no longer grow - even as his undamaged left leg grew longer. Such injuries aren't that uncommon. If the damage is caught early, a surgeon can stop the growth in the other leg as well. But if the problem goes undetected - as Michael's did - the child is often left with a painful, uneven gait that can damage the joints. "One hip was lower than the other side," said Michael, now 16. "I had a lot of pain because of it." In the past, families had three options - none of them ideal. A special shoe could extend the shorter leg. An operation could shorten the longer leg. Or a more complicated operation - with a high rate of complications - could lengthen the shorter leg. Now a new option is available to patients at University Hospital. To help Michael, Dr. Grant Hogue, assistant professor of orthopedics at the University of Texas Health Science Center, was the first in the region to introduce a new leg-lengthening option using a device called the Precise Nail. The femur is divided, and both sides are attached to a completely implantable rod or "nail" that is slowly lengthened using a tiny implantable magnetic motor. The nail acts as scaffolding for healthy new bone growth. A magnetic remote control operated by the patient extends the nail a fraction of a millimeter at a time to slowly stretch surrounding tissue over several weeks as the new bone grows. The remote is programmed so that the patient can't extend the nail too quickly or too long. Today, Michael is regaining strength and looking forward to playing basketball again in a few months. "Lengthening is something we've been working on and trying to do for the last 20 years, but we've never been able to accomplish it in such a safe and effective fashion," Dr. Hogue said. "This is the future of leg lengthening."
2016 See How We See Annual Report
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