Epiphysiodesis

Also known as: growth arrest, leg length discrepancy treatment.

What is epiphysiodesis?

When children have a discrepancy in the length of their legs, the problems often persist or worsen over time as the child grows. One method for treating a severe leg length discrepancy is known as epiphysiodesis. This surgical procedure involves halting the growth of the longer leg in order to allow the shorter leg to “catch up” over time.

What happens during the procedure?

Epiphysiodesis is a surgery that is performed on the physis, or growth plate, of the longer leg. The surgery can involve drilling the growth plate, placing screws across it or tethering it on either side with plates to prevent the bone from growing. In some cases, the leg can be made to stop growing permanently by removing cartilage from the leg.

Is any special preparation needed?

Epiphysiodesis is an outpatient surgery that can often be done with minimal morbidity. Your child may need to avoid food, drink or certain medications before the procedure. A number of tests are required beforehand to ensure that the timing is right, and that the child is a good candidate for epiphysiodesis. Typically, activities are restricted for about 6 weeks after surgery.

What are the risk factors?

Infection, bleeding, damage to the healthy leg, overcorrection of the discrepancy or not correcting the leg length discrepancy are all potential complications of epiphysiodesis.


Reviewed by: Scott J Schoenleber, MD

This page was last updated on: October 16, 2020 02:30 PM

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