Sad statistics say that every year the number of small people increases. Dwarfism is considered a pathology, and the most common diagnosis is achondroplasia.
Genetics is an insidious thing. It is not always possible to find out whether a child will inherit a broken gene or not. Many children with achondroplasia are born to healthy, tall parents. Do they pay attention to the fact that one’s father had a great-grandmother in the family who was one and a half meters tall, and the mother’s great-uncle didn’t grow above 1.2 m? The mosaic of DNA is multifaceted and unpredictable. Those who are unlucky have two options: to put up with that and live as a dwarf or to increase height through surgery.
“In case of achondroplasia, growth hormone treatment does not help. This is a pathology of a different nature. Bones don’t grow in length. Therefore, the dwarf has short legs, and his or her arms end at the level of the waist. Fortunately, surgical operations to increase height have long been developed.
In world practice, achondroplasia is corrected for children from the age of 12. It is believed that a person must decide on the operation on his or her own. Even 12 years is too early. Fortunately, many orthopedists today take patients from 3 years old, when differences in height are not so evident comparing with peers.
I believe that it is optimal to perform surgery from 3 years. A small organism tolerates surgical manipulations more easily. And most importantly, the younger the patient, the higher he or she can become”
– says Vitaliy Veklich, founder of Ladisten Clinic, a practicing orthopedist with 40 years of experience.
Achondroplasia correction surgery is a serious procedure with a long rehabilitation period. Many people make up their mind to undergo this operation in adulthood, having 20 or more years of experience in living a “dwarf” life. People consciously take this step, and then show long scars on their arms and legs left after the surgery. In such a way they declare to the world what they are ready to do for the sake of “integrity”.
Fortunately, the methodics introduced by Dr. Veklich help to avoid large surgical incisions and scars afterwards.
The procedure itself lasts for about an hour. The patient’s bone is cut in a specific place and fixed in the correct position for knitting. To perform this procedure, three small cuts on the arm or leg are enough. Further, the nature runs its course: in the place of dissection, new bone tissue is formed which must be gradually stretched using a special device. It is installed during the operation. Stretching, knitting and lengthening lasts within 7 months. All this time the patient wears the device.
The process of height increase is carried out in several stages and takes 1.5-2 years. Here is the simple sequence:
Between the stages, there are 5-6 months of rehabilitation. In adolescence, one more complex of three stages can be carried out. As a result, another 10 cm in length can be added for each limb. In total, it turns out that a person can grow by 20-28 cm! If his or her programmed height was 1 m 20 cm, in the end it can reach 1 m 40 cm, or even one and a half meter. This can be considered just short height, but not dwarfism.
“The key point in the operation is the fixation device. The bones are cut within an hour, but the period of rehabilitation and growth of new tissue lasts for months. All this time, the limbs are fixed with a special instrument – the Ilizarov device. I have improved the design and successfully use it in practice even for small patients”,
– continues Dr. Veklich.
The Veklich device consists of arcs and semi-rings. They completely follow the contours of the body and don’t create a bulky uncomfortable structure. This is much more convenient than the classic version. The device is not so noticeable, it is much more comfortable to undergo rehabilitation and move around with it.
The advanced design doesn’t use traumatic spokes that cause suppuration and complications, so it is easier to remove. Thanks to such improvements, the Veklich device has a much lighter weight and doesn’t create an additional load on the spine of the child
“Ladisten is now reaching the global level. People from 36 countries of the world get in touch with us. Already 1000 young patients have got new height. Our doors are always open”,
– summarizes Vitaliy Veklich.
This is how modern technologies developed in Ukraine help children with the diagnosis of achondroplasia (dwarfism) to gain self-confidence and start living a full life.
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