|DR. PALEY'S MEDIA SECTION
Dror Paley, MD, FRCSC
|ORTHOPEDIC EDUCATIONAL SITE BY THE MOST
EXPERIENCED LIMB LENGTHENING SURGEON IN THE
|Dec 24, 2011
First North American patient to receive a new
PRECICE Remote Control leg-lengthening device.
Doctor says Edmond woman is the first North American patient to receive a new leg-lengthening
device that is pain-free and less invasive than the traditional device. Kristin Ketch avoided a life in
a body cast by trying the new device that will add a couple of inches to her height.
The certified occupational therapy assistant, from Edmond, decided she hadn't spent her entire
29 years of life compensating for a left leg that was about 11/2 inches shorter than the right
one, only to spend the rest of her life bound in a body cast.
She didn't know it at the time but the 5-foot 71/2-inch woman would soon become the nation's
first person to receive a new limb-lengthening device.
Ketch was born with legs of different lengths and had long compensated for the imbalance by
throwing out a hip as she walked. Over time, the uneven posture essentially beat up parts of her
body. She had back pain and scoliosis or curvature of the spine had become a problem, leading
doctors to prescribe various treatments.
At one point, she thought her leg problems were solved. She celebrated by trashing her
“platform shoe,” a built-up shoe designed to even up her legs.
“I threw it ... as far away as it could go. I didn't care where it landed,” she said.
She discarded it after a doctor shortened her right leg about four years ago, thinking she would
be able to walk normally. But she had to begin the first of about a 11/2 year period of wearing a
leg brace because the knee bent backward. The muscles couldn't recover their strength and the
leg remained weak. The brace wasn't very effective, rubbed her skin and fit poorly under her
The idea of the next step — a body cast — frightened her. So that Friday evening, she got on
the Internet and found leg-lengthening expert Dr. Dror Paley of St. Mary's Medical Center in
West Palm Beach, Fla. She emailed him explaining her concerns. She was surprised when he
emailed back that night and called her Saturday morning.
“He said, ‘Whatever you do, don't let them put you in a body cast. Let's get you back here as
fast as you can,'” Ketch said.
Paley has done about 13,000 leg-lengthening procedures over more than two decades, with
some of those cases involving children and adults internationally whose only alternative was
amputation. He has developed advanced surgical methods and written a book on deformity
Knee too weak
Ketch began physical therapy with Paley in 2009 to improve the muscle strength. Despite many
long months of hard work by Ketch, the knee was still weak, requiring knee surgery and more
than a year of additional therapy, Paley said. She continued to have problems and wanted to
have leg-lengthening surgery.
Paley has lengthened limbs by as much as 16 inches but Ketch's need for only a few inches of
growth suggested she would be a good candidate for a new leg-lengthening device. The device
is inserted inside the bone to make the bone grow in people suffering limb deformities from birth
defects, accidents or illness.
The traditional method, practiced since the early 1900s, involves an external device, yet the
procedure is painful and often more prone to infection, Paley said. The new device is set in the
hollow of the bone and expands like a car antenna with an inner and outer tube, moved through
an internal magnet. The bone regenerates as it is gradually pulled apart.
“The beauty is that it is virtually painless,” Paley said
In about a one-hour surgery per leg on Dec. 1, Paley operated on both of Ketch's legs.
“She's the first person in the U.S. to get this operation,” Paley said.
He said she is doing very well and will be about 5 feet 9 inches or taller. He said it's also highly
unusual that the bilateral operation was done on someone who wasn't having it done to be taller.
Ketch's insurance is paying for the 32- to 50-day treatment. She said she can barely wait for
the day she'll ditch the wheelchair and return to her life in Oklahoma.
“I'm looking forward to the day I can walk straight and normal. I've never walked in a normal
pattern,” she said.
Ketch said her goal is to progress well enough to enter the 5k event Paley puts on for patients
each December. Depending on their level of recovery, patients run, walk, get pushed or carried
in the event.
“I would like to run it,” Ketch said.
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