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Limb reconstruction

orthopaedic patient

The Paediatric Limb Reconstruction Service (PLRS) offers a comprehensive service to children from Sheffield and the surrounding areas, as well as national and international patients. As a specialist centre we normally receive referrals from orthopaedic surgeons in local hospitals or GPs.

We advise on, and treat, all limb deformities including leg length discrepancies, upper and lower limb deformities and severely restricted growth. We see children up to the age of 16, and up to 19 in some cases.

Treatment is available for simple rotational problems through to complex reconstruction of severe limb abnormalities using external and internal correction devices (frames).

Limb reconstruction treatment

Limb reconstruction programmes normally take between six months and a year to complete, and will include many visits to clinic at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Some patients will go through a series of separate treatments that will be staged throughout their childhood. During the course of long term treatment patients may also have physiotherapy and/or wear orthotics.

Initial assessment

Before starting treatment you will be invited to the hospital to meet the PLRS team and find out more about what will be involved. Your initial assessment appointment may take place some time before a frame is fitted.

During the appointment a specialist PLRS nurse will talk to you about how long the treatment is likely to take, the frame, pin site care and a turns regime. They will also do a physical assessment which includes measuring your child’s height and weight and checking their blood pressure, and will complete the necessary paperwork.

You will also meet with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who will assess your child’s needs before the treatment begins and offer advice on what you can do to make the treatment as effective as possible.

Preparing for your assessment

PLRS assessments take place in the Theatre Admissions Unit (TAU).

There are a few things you can do to help your assessment go smoothly:

  • think about / write down any questions you want to ask
  • bring some information about what medications or treatments your child currently has
  • bring swimwear or shorts for your child to wear during medical photography and examinations
  • be prepared to wait – although we always aim to see families at the given time, sometimes appointments can run over depending on how complex a child’s needs are, and it’s really important that we’re thorough (your visit may take up to six hours)
  • be prepared to visit different departments – your child may need blood tests, x-rays, medical photography and/or a scanogram during their pre-op visit

Before having a frame fitted

Before your frame is fitted a consultant will talk to you about what the surgery involves, explain the risks and benefits, and get your consent for the treatment to go ahead.

You may also see other clinical staff including:

  • an anaesthetist may be involved if your child has particularly complex needs
  • a junior doctor will take a full medical history of your child
  • a specialist pain team nurse will discuss different ways of keeping any pain under control
  • a clinical psychologist may be involved if we feel this would help with the treatment

You may also be able to visit Ward 2 (our orthopaedic ward) if you would like to.

Support for families

Many families who use our service find it helpful to talk to each other about their experiences so we often share contact details (with your consent). We also have a PLRS Facebook group to help families connect. If you are interested please speak to a member of the PLRS team.

Our expertise

The service celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015 and during this time the team has fitted more than 2000 frames.

We are a major centre for training the next generation of paediatric orthopaedic surgeons and have trained many of the top surgeons in the UK and abroad.

We also run many well known courses and have a well established research program.

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