Chromosomal and Genetic Conditions

Dwarfism and Bone Dysplasias Treatment

Our goal is to help children, teenagers and adults with bone dysplasias function well and have a high quality of life. This means we are ready to treat all aspects of the disorder, from medical problems to social and family issues.

We understand the social and physiological challenges faced by children with rare conditions and their families. We offer supportive social, medical and psychological services, both at Seattle Children's and in the child's community. We encourage contact with organizations such as LPA.

Dwarfism and Bone Dysplasias Treatment Options

The major deformities of children with skeletal dysplasias affect the arms, legs and spine. In some cases, surgery can help correct these deformities.

Medical centers that do not specialize in bone dysplasias rarely see these conditions. Our orthopedic staff is highly skilled and very experienced in treating these conditions. When orthopedic treatment may be helpful, we manage all aspects of care.

Surgery for limb problems

Sometimes arms and legs grow crooked. This can cause hip or knee pain and make walking and running difficult. In some cases, operations to realign these joints may be helpful.

These operations include:

  • Inserting metals staples into the growth plate in one or more of your child's bones to correct the way a limb is growing
  • Dividing a bone, straightening it and then fixing it in place using metal plates and screws

Sometimes arms and legs are so short that it is difficult for your child to manage daily activities such as personal hygiene. In these cases, you and your child's doctor may consider limb lengthening.

In this operation, the doctor cuts a bone into two pieces. Then, over a period of time, the two pieces of bone are gradually pulled apart (distracted) while new bone forms in between them. This makes the healed bone longer.

Surgery to correct spine problems

Curving in the backbone ( scoliosis ) is a common problem for children with dwarfism. If your child has severe scoliosis, you and your child's doctor may consider surgery that uses metal rods and screws to help straighten the spine.

Spinal stenosis is another condition that often affects people with dwarfism. The canal that the spinal cord runs through is narrower than usual, which can put pressure on the spinal cord. This causes pain and weakness in your child's arms and legs. It may also interfere with normal breathing.

In these cases, you and your child's doctor may consider an operation to open up the spinal canal to take pressure off the spinal cord and nerves.

Diagnostic and genetic counseling services

We provide diagnostic services for both children and pregnant women, and genetic counseling for families. Our staff includes experts who can help explain genetic conditions and the possibilities of having a child with a bone dysplasia.

Learn more about genetic testing for achondroplasia .