Artificial Bones - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/22/04

Artificial Bones

Used to be if you found bone cancer in an arm or leg, that limb would have to be amputated. But today, improvements in surgery and chemotherapy have allowed doctors to remove the cancerous bone and replace it with an artificial bone.

In kids who are still growing, one option has been prosthetic bones that can be cranked every so often so they sort of stretch as the child grows, but that means repeated surgery.

"With surgery comes the risk of infection, the risk of more scar tissue, the risk of prolonged anesthesia, the risk of blood loss," says Dr. Joseph Benevenia, New Jersey Medical School.

Now here's what's new at the New Jersey Medical School. Daryl had a new prosthetic thigh bone inserted that uses an ingenious way to grow with him. Inside the device is a high tech plastic tube. Every three months or so, an electromagnetic ring is placed around the thigh. The magnetic field softens the plastic allowing the spring inside to gently lengthen the bone a few millimeters at a time. So, over time, Daryl might get as much as three inches of lengthening.

The procedure is called "repiphysis." The only downside is that like all artificial prostheses, it will eventually wear out and have to be replaced, but Dr. Benevenia says one more surgery eventually is a lot better than repeated surgeries to lengthen the leg bit by bit.

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