The “distraction phase” involves the introduction of a separating device, often a Ilizarov apparatus. This surrounds the leg and bolts into the bone, allowing stabilization, and separation. Each day, the device separates the two parts of the tibia by about one milliliter. While the device separates the bone, a callus forms at the site of the break, and as the bone is spread farther apart, the callus is resorbed and replaced with a collagen structure.
Collagen is a protein that forms the connective tissues in our bodies. Blood vessels will begin to grow around this collagen, and special cells called osteoblasts move in to create the actual bone material. At this stage, the bone material has not mineralized, or become fully hard.
The final phase is the “consolidation” phase. This refers to the mineralization of the bone material, where the desired length is reached, and often tops out as just a few inches. It takes about a month for each centimeter in length.
The now slightly taller patient, would have to undergo several months of physical therapy to learn how to walk again. Undoubtedly, the whole process is extremely painful.
According to a 2014 study, the complications associated with the surgery are numerous. This include axis deviation, or leg alignment, hardening of joints, and psychological problems.