What started as a fun ride on a golf cart during a vacation three years ago in South Carolina turned into a life-changing incident for Elmhurst resident Carolyn White. She was a passenger in a golf cart that rolled over and caused a crushing injury to her leg.
She was immediately taken to the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, with an open fracture of her fibula and tibia. The accident also severed her Achilles tendon and damaged the nerves in her foot and lower leg as well as crushing two arteries in her leg. She also suffered from extensive blood and tissue loss. Doctors in the ER called her mom, Rita White, to inform her of the severity of the injuries and that the leg was almost amputated in the accident. But thanks to the efforts of an excellent medical team, Carolyn would undergo six surgeries instead of amputation.
Once the surgeries were complete, it became evident the injured leg was shorter than the other. When she reached her mature height, there was a one inch difference between her two legs. Carolyn walked with a limp when she first visited Dr. Monica Kogan, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, to seek help.
Kogan has performed many leg lengthening procedures on children and young adults. In the past, treatment consisted of an external fixation that looked like a cage around the patient’s leg. It required the patient to come into the physician’s office once a week to lengthen the struts of the fixator, which in turn elongated the bone. This method is cumbersome, can leave unsightly scars and in rare cases, can lead to infection.
Instead, Kogan suggested a new system that uses magnets to help lengthen the leg. A metal rod was inserted into Carolyn’s fibula and tibia and she was able to lengthen her bones at home painlessly by holding a handheld device and maneuvering it over her leg for three minutes, three times a day. The Precice leg lengthening system, as it’s called, promotes faster healing and decreases the risk of infection. Kogan is the only surgeon in Chicago using this new system.
Carolyn visited Kogan on a regular basis for X-rays and to monitor her progress. As with any lengthening procedure, she couldn’t bear weight on her legs for several months.
Today at 17, with the support and love of her family and friends, she is doing the best she can to carry on with her life. Thanks to Kogan and her staff, Carolyn’s walking significantly better than she was pre-surgery.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of Dr. Kogan, who has been a Godsend to me,” she says.
To schedule an appointment, call 877-MD-BONES (877-632-6637) or visit rushortho.com.