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Orthopedic Surgeon Breaks a Leg to Help Alameda Girl

Ten-year-old Mary Lisanti of Alameda with orthopedic surgeon Scott Hoffinger, who corrected a problem with Mary's left leg.

Ten-year-old Mary Lisanti of Alameda with orthopedic surgeon Scott Hoffinger, who corrected a problem with Mary’s left leg.

Mary Lisanti of Alameda was born with fibular hemimelia, a birth defect that caused her left leg to be three inches shorter than her right. Now, at ten years of age, Mary has a chance to walk normally, thanks to work by orthopedic surgeon Scott Hoffinger, MD, of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Hoffinger started treating Mary back in 2003, when she was just six months old.

“The main thing we do for kids like Mary is prevent contracture or loss of range of motion in the ankle of the shorter leg,” Hoffinger explained. “We plan this through prosthetics and ankle-foot orthotics, thus allowing regular activities.”

After a point, however, prosthetics and orthotics cannot fully accomodate the difference in the patients’ leg length; in 2012, Mary and her family had to begin planning for leg-lengthening surgery.

Although Mary had always been able to dance and play basketball, she was game to try the surgery.

“Well, I always wondered what it would be like if my legs were more even,” Mary said.

Hoffinger had to break Mary’s tibia and fibula to allow surgical attachment of a Taylor Spatial Frame to her leg. The device allows daily adjustments that gradually lengthen the leg, millimeters at a time.

Mary’s cast came off on December 18th of last year, and she’s now able to bear weight on her left leg.

“Now, she’s crutch-free,” said Mike Lisanti, her father, “and getting stronger and more mobile every day. Mary’s riding her bike and starting some basketball shooting drills.”

Packard Children’s Hospital says that Dr. Hoffinger has treated more than 50 leg-lengthening cases in his career.

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