Cross-sectional anatomy of the post-distraction osteogenesis tibia. Long term study in adults

K Giannakas, A M Khan, R A Wilkes

Orthopaedic Proceedings. Supplement of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery


While the early period of distraction osteogenesis has been extensively investigated, there are very few data describing the long-term morphology of the regenerate. We performed magnetic resonance scans in ten adults (men age 35+− 11 yr), seven of whom had bone transport for an iatrogenic osseous defect while further three had tibial lengthening for limb length discrepancy. Follow-up ranged between 14 and 43 months (mean : 28 + − 10 months) following the removal of the external fixator. The perimeter, cross- sectional area, volume and the mean signal intensity was calculated from the obtained T1 weighted axial images. Values were compared with the contralateral tibia that acted as control. All cases that had bone transport increased the volume of the tibia from 15.3% up to 50.8%. The regenerated segment was noted to have expanded significantly (p<0.0001) in all cases. Mean signal intensity in the regenerate decreased in seven cases significantly (p<0.0001) suggesting increase content of unhydrated tissue such as bone and collagen. The cross-sectional surface of the transported segment was increased in all cases (p<0.008). Finally in cases that underwent bone transport, the docking site was noted to be obstructed by unhydrated tissue. Contrary to previous claims, the post-distraction osteogenesis tibia is far from normal, consisting of areas with potentially different biomechanical properties. Recognition of these changes is essential not only for appropriate pre-operative counseling but also for considering treatment modalities in case of a fracture.