Short Toe Surgery

If surgery is advised to lengthen your metatarsal (and realign toe position), your specialist will initially carry out an X-ray to assess which surgery is most appropriate for you.

This is a relatively common operation where extra length is achieved by inserting additional bone. This process of inserting additional bone is also known as a bone graft. The new bone need only be small, typically up to 1.5cm, the bone can be taken from another part of the body, such as the heel bone. Once the bone is inserted, the area is stabilised with a bone plate and screws that remain in the foot indefinitely. There is a limit to the additional length that can be achieved with this procedure. As a result this surgery is generally recommended when less than 1.5cm lengthening is required and only for one toe. You will need to take the first 4 – 6 weeks off from work following surgery. You may require a cast for the first 4 – 6 weeks, following this you may be transferred into an aircast boot for a further 2 – 4 weeks. Full bone healing takes up to three months. Swelling subsides over 6 – 12 months for the final result to be appreciated.
This procedure allows for a greater increase in bone length. The operation involves a precise cut to the bone that does not impede the blood supply followed by attachment of an external fixator device that will stretch the short bone over time. The external device allows you to slowly increase the bone length a little each day, after which the device is removed. The bone will gradually increase 1mm per day until the desired length is achieved. Once the bone has healed the fixation will be removed between 1 – 2 months postoperatively. Full bone healing takes up to 3 months. You will be in a specialised cast or boot for a period of up to 3 months. Larger deformities in bone length can be corrected using this technique.


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