The effect of the amount of limb lengthening on skeletal muscle

Carrie A. Lindsey, Marina R. Makarov, Scott Shoemaker, John G. Birch, Peter H. Buschang, Alexander M. Cherkashin, Robert D. Welch, Mikhail L. Samchukov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The adaptation of tibialis anterior muscles after 20% and 30% gradual limb lengthening was evaluated. Eight skeletally mature neutered male goats had 20% (n = 4) or 30% (n = 4) tibial distraction at a rate of 0.25 mm three times per day. Muscles from lengthened and contralateral control limbs were harvested on completion of distraction. Fiber length and sarcomere length were measured followed by calculation of sarcomere number and muscle fiber-to-bone lengthening ratio. Fiber length and sarcomere number after 20% and 30% limb lengthening were significantly greater in the distracted muscles, whereas no difference in sarcomere length was detected. The difference in muscle fiber length and sarcomere number between distracted and control limbs was greater in the 30% than in the 20% group. The disproportion between the amounts of muscle fiber and bone length increase was similar after 20% and 30% lengthening. The results show that muscular adaptation continues during 20% to 30% limb lengthening by increasing fiber length. It seems that this increase occurs through serial sarcomere addition rather than sarcomere length alteration. The higher rate of muscle-related clinical complications after limb lengthening beyond 20% does not seem to be related to a failure of muscle fiber contractile elements to adapt to increasing limb length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - Sep 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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