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Dealing with dwarfism
Date:3/31/2009

ROSEMONT, IL A popular cable reality television show, Little People, Big World, focuses on the daily lives of short stature individuals. This series bring achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, into the spotlight. According to a literature review published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), treating patients with dwarfism is an extremely complex process. Orthopaedic surgeons and others caring for people with this disorder should be aware of its many manifestations.

For example, limb lengthening treatments for those living with achondroplasia have been met with mixed results.

"Not only is limb lengthening a huge time commitment for the families involved, but children with achondroplasia are taken out of the environment where they play, interact and have fun to be placed in treatment for several years," said study co-author Michael C. Ain, MD, associate professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. "At the end of the day, these kids may be able to reach a higher shelf, but their level of physical activity in both athletic and sporting events may be very limited or not existent at all."

  • Some studies have found that height can be gained with growth hormone injections, but the authors question whether the average height increase of six to eight centimeters is worth undergoing five years of daily injections.
  • Patients undergoing hormone injections see an initial increase in height, but once treatment stops, the height plateaus. These hormone injections may cause or accelerate symptoms of spinal stenosis.
  • Surgical treatments can produce greater increases in height, but also carry a much higher risk of complications.

The authors also found that early diagnosis and treatment of the manifestations of achondroplasia, sometimes even before they become symptomatic,
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Contact: Lauren Pearson
lpearson@aaos.org
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Source:Eurekalert

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