Limb Lengthening Success

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By News Team on June 1, 2017


Kellen Smith was 16 years old when he was hit by a van going 59 miles per hour.

"I had a compound fracture in my left leg," he said. "It blew my leg completely apart."

Nearly 20 years later, he started to develop pain in other areas of his body connected to the damage the accident had caused. After meeting with Carilion Clinic orthopaedic trauma surgeon, Trevor Owen, M.D., Kellen chose to have surgery to place a computer-assisted external fixator on his leg to straighten and lengthen it.  

“What this allows us to do as opposed to putting a plate or a screw on the inside that we can’t change after it is on," explained Dr. Owen. "The computer assisted external fixator allows us to make adjustments that will correct a deformity over time.” 

Every morning Kellen received adjustment instructions through an app on his phone. During his initial visits, Dr. Owen used computer software determine the adjustments that would help alleviate the pain Kellen was experiencing. After six months of regular visits and X-rays, Dr. Owen was ready to remove the frame on Kellen's leg.

“Having a leg that is even, having hips that are even, my back even is a huge, huge deal," said Kellen. "I know for a fact that in 20 years, I am going to be saying, thank goodness for Dr. Owen."

The amount of time a patient wears a computer-assisted external fixator varies depending on the extent of the correction that is needed. See more Kellen's journey in the video above.