Dubai: Ten years after a car accident left an expat’s right leg shorter than the left, doctors in the UAE restored it to normal length, giving him complete mobility.

The 26-year-old UAE expatriate underwent a specialised surgery at the RAK Hospital in June 2018 and the patient has since resumed normal lifestyle, doctors said.

Mohammad Khan with Dr William Hodge after his surgery last June. Image Credit: Supplied

Mohammad Khan was a 16-year-old student in 2008 when he met with a car accident in Pakistan resulting in a fracture dislocation of his right hip. He underwent several surgeries for fracture repair but that resulted in the right leg being shorter than the other by 2cm as his hip bone was destroyed, causing him to walk on a stiff leg and with a limp.

This led to painful traumatic arthritis as the pain in the hip got worse. He was told he would require a complex surgery that involved replacing his right hip with a specialised artificial hip joint.

The accident had left me suffering from excruciating pain. Since the day I came to the UAE, my main aim has been to find a good doctor to relieve me of this pain and correct my leg length...Just four days after the surgery I was able to walk.

- Mohammad Khan

Patients who undergo hip replacement surgeries should be wary of discrepancy in leg lengths, and take corrective measures at the earliest to avoid chronic bone and joint issues, said Dr William Hodge, a Harvard-trained US Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon at RAK Hospital who carried out the challenging surgery on Khan.

Dr Hodge conducted a special hip replacement to correct the severely arthritic hip along with the irregularity in his limb length.

“The discrepancy in the length of the leg can be addressed with hip replacement where the surgeon can use specialised, modular implants of varied size and lengths in the joint for correction of arthritis and deformity,” explained Dr Hodge.

“In cases where the difference is small, patients may learn to adjust their gait with time. However, people with length differences of even 1cm can end up with an obvious limp and eventually lead to spine and pelvic curvature while putting a lot of pressure on other joints, leading to a lot of pain and mobility issues. Such issues need to be addressed promptly before limps and deformities become permanent.”

To last 30 years or so

Besides the obvious change in gait, people with limb length discrepancy are at a higher risk of severe back, hip and knee pain, fatigue, arthritis and can face mobility issues later in life. A difference of anything more than 1cm can be problematic increasing the chances of chronic back pain by as much as six times.

Dr Hodge added: “In Khan’s case, hip replacement was inevitable since his condition required immediate relief from pain. The patient underwent complex right hip replacement where his right leg was lengthened by 2cm. In order to provide maximum support and for superior durability, we used special ceramic ball, titanium implant with advanced cross-linked polythene bearing insert that should last him 30 years or so. He has done extremely well with rehabilitation, quickly progressing to walking with a cane, then to no limp, no pain and equal leg lengths.

Khan who works as an executive in a medical supplies company has completely recovered and resumed a normal life told Gulf News: “The accident had left me suffering from excruciating pain. Since the day I came to the UAE, my main aim has been to find a good doctor to relieve me of this pain and correct my leg length. I did my research and read about Dr Hodge online. So I came to meet him, and went ahead with the surgery. Just four days after the surgery I was able to walk and now (after physiotherapy) am delighted to be able to walk properly.”