Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I didn't even know this was possible ...

While browsing the New England Journal of Medicine site I found this picture in their medical images section (note: the very squeamish might not want to look at the full image).


Apparently the young woman in question had a bone tumor in her femur and "the middle and distal portions of the tibia, along with the foot and ankle, were rotated 180 degrees and attached to the proximal femur so that the ankle joint could act as the knee joint." To translate, they removed a large fraction of her femur and then fused her tibia to the remainder of her femur, rotating the tibia 180 degrees so the foot pointed backwards. The point of the rotation was so that the ankle joint could function as a knee, which apparently works quite well, as can be seen in this video. The procedure is known as a rotationplasty.

The amount of biological knowledge that went into this one operation is astounding, especially considering that the young woman was five (she's now 12) when this operation occurred, so she's grown significantly since the operation.

If you want more information, there are some abstracts available, as well as a news article discussing the case above.

And, in the file of "oh man is that wrong," the hospital that performed this surgery was The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, whose website is (note the acronym).

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