The effect of distal femoral extension osteotomy on muscle lengths after surgery

R. L. Lenhart, C. R. Smith, M. H. Schwartz, T. F. Novacheck, D. G. Thelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose The distal femoral extension osteotomy (DFEO) is often used in the treatment of crouch gait to help compensate for knee flexion contractures. The effects of DFEO on skeletal and muscle lengths are incompletely understood, but are important to consider in planning concomitant surgeries such as patellar tendon advancement (PTA). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to quantify the changes in femur, quadriceps, and hamstring lengths with DFEO, and to determine the sensitivity to surgical factors such as wedge location and magnitude. Methods A musculoskeletal model with six degrees of freedom tibiofemoral and patellofemoral joints was used for analysis. A wedge was removed from the distal femur and the remaining bone segments were plated together to simulate the DFEO. After simulating the knee’s post-operative equilibrium, the surgically-induced changes in muscle and bone lengths were analysed. Results Relative to the pre-operative state, DFEO stretches the hamstrings while shortening the femur and quadriceps. A more posterior wedge apex location (i.e. creation of a cuneiform wedge) diminished the stretch of the hamstrings, but induced greater shortening of the femur and quadriceps. More proximal wedge locations necessitated greater translation of the distal fragment to maintain the knee joint axis. Conclusion Reduced quadriceps length after DFEO shown in this study is consistent with the need for simultaneous PTA. The induced hamstring stretch also may represent a potential mechanism for post-operative nerve palsies. Overall, the numerical results provide a firmer basis for planning the specifics of DFEO such that desired muscle lengths and joint alignment are achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Children's Orthopaedics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery. All rights reserved.


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Crouch gait
  • Surgical simulation


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