New Leg Lengthening Option at Saint Louis University Hospital 
Tuesday, 06 May 2014 
ST. LOUIS –Orthopaedic surgeons at Saint Louis University Hospital are implanting a new leg limb lengthening device that uses a remote control and magnets to extend the leg, rather than using cumbersome external devices worn over the skin.

The PRECICE device is used in leg limb lengthening procedures of the femur and tibia bones. Rather than using adjustable external fixation systems attached to the leg bone through long-term openings in the skin, PRECICE is implanted internally and adjusts to lengthen the leg bones via non-invasive methods from outside the body.

By using a remote control for about two minutes three times per day, the device uses magnets to lengthen the bone approximately one millimeter daily. Patients would use the device for approximately 3-4 months to lengthen a leg one inch or 8-10 months for two inches.

“This avoids many of the complications patients face with an external device,” says J. Tracy Watson, SLUCare orthopaedic surgeon at Saint Louis University Hospital. “It’s a unique, more patient friendly way to do post traumatic-leg lengthening.”

The technology was approved for marketing clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011 and is an advance in treatment over the Ilizarov apparatus. Named after orthopedic surgeon Gavriil Abramovich Ilizarov of the Soviet Union, the device became widely used in leg lengthening, however the surgically attached device does have a negative in its bulky size and metallic frame on the outside of the leg.

Dr. Watson has been using the Ilizarov apparatus for years and learned the technique by traveling to Russia and receiving training from Dr. Ilizarov in 1988.

“It’s a technique that has helped countless people but it isn’t the most patient friendly option,” says Dr. Watson.

While leg length discrepancies are often congenital and treated among a pediatric population, Dr. Watson says the patient population at Saint Louis University Hospital will primarily be those whose leg length was altered due to traumatic injury.

“Many of our patients have had a prior leg injury, a prior surgery or previous hardware in the legs,” he says.


About Saint Louis University Hospital

Saint Louis University Hospital is a 356-licensed bed quaternary/tertiary referral center located in the heart of the city of St. Louis. Approximately 75 percent of patients are drawn from a 150-mile radius. Through affiliation as the teaching hospital for Saint Louis University, the hospital provides patients and their families with an environment of medical innovation. Working in this endeavor are the hospital’s medical staff partners, SLUCare, the physicians of Saint Louis University. The hospital admits more than 17,000 patients annually and is a Level I Trauma Center treating more than 2,000 major trauma cases a year. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Jason Merrill