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Rare Rotationplasty Surgery Re-Grafts Boys Leg Backwards

Rare Rotationplasty Surgery Re-Grafts Boys Leg Backwards

Doctors perform a rare leg reversal rotationplasty surgery to save young boy’s life…

Doctors at the Ohio State University Medical Center have performed a rare life saving operation that involved amputating the lower half of the leg of a young boy, then re-grafting a portion of it on backwards.

Young Dugan Smith was 10 years old was doctors found a malignant tumor, near the femur on his right leg. The severity of the rare form of cancer meant that only chemotherapy together with surgery would save his life.

To stop the cancer doctors had to remove a large portion of Smith’s leg, but instead of leaving the amputated leg, they opted for a procedure known as rotationplasty.

To perform the rare operation, Joel Mayerson, a specialist in musculoskeletal oncology at Ohio State University Medical Center and one of the country’s only experts in rotationplasty, and his colleagues first removed the lower half of the Smith’s leg. The diseased section of the leg was then cut out and the remaining lower leg and foot transplanted back on the upper thigh, in the opposite direction.

Because the nerves and blood vessels can be reattached the patient regains the use and feeling in their new limb, even though the limb has been rotated 180 degree. In this position the ankle functions as the knee, the foot as the shin and a prosthetic leg then allows the patient to walk.

Both the doctors and Smith himself opted for a “rotationplasty,” so he could keep playing baseball; and now aged 13, he’s already back on the field pitching for his middle school baseball team.

Rotationplasty was first invented back in the 1950’s, however the rare surgical procedure is only carried out a few times year.

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  1. Emma Carmichael: This Impressive Young Man Had His Leg Reattached Backward So That He Could Play Sports Like A Normal Kid With A Backward Leg. Deadspin, 05/21/2011.
  2. Erik Malinowsky: Rare Leg Reversal Turns Little Leaguer’s Life Around. Wired, 20/05/2011.

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