Girl Has Her Leg Amputated And Reattached Backwards As Part Of Bone Cancer Treatment

This rare procedure is called rotationplasty and aims to offer the little girl a better chance at wearing a prosthetic leg in the future.

Prosthetic leg.
SeventyFour / Shutterstock

This rare procedure is called rotationplasty and aims to offer the little girl a better chance at wearing a prosthetic leg in the future.

Seven-year-old Amelia Eldred from Tamworth, England, has been the focus of a very unusual surgical intervention designed to help the little girl win the battle against bone cancer.

The brave little patient, as the doctor who performed the surgery has described her, underwent a rare medical procedure known as rotationplasty, in which her left leg was amputated and reattached backward at the hip.

Amelia had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, in her left femur. In her case, chemotherapy failed to shrink the tumor, so amputation became her only choice of keeping the cancer from spreading.

In order to improve her chances of wearing a prosthetic leg in the future, doctors at the Royal Orthopedic Hospital in Birmingham came up with the solution of performing a rotationplasty.

This procedure aimed to save the 7-year-old from having an amputation at the hip by allowing her to keep a functioning knee joint that would be later on fitted into a prosthesis, notes a Royal Orthopedic Hospital news release.

During the rotationplasty, the doctors amputated the leg above the knee and removed the knee joint, which had been affected by the tumor. Then, they reattached the leg back on Amelia’s hip, only they did it backward, so that she could use the saved ankle as a knee.

The reason why her leg had to be rotated before being reattached is that the ankle flexes in the opposite direction compared to the knee, explains the news release.

“She was the perfect patient to have this procedure and even said ‘goodbye loser’ to the cancer as we prepared to amputate,” said Dr. Lee Jeys, the surgeon who performed the rotationplasty.

“She has shown real bravery and confidence in showing off her leg, even though it looks a bit different. I’m glad that she’ll be able to continue doing all the things a normal child can do including sports and dancing,” Jeys added.

The video below, released by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, explains how rotationplasties work, who the procedure is appropriate for, and which are the possible complications associated with this rare type of surgery.

According to OncoLink, rotationplasty is most commonly used in children under the age of 12 because of two important reasons. Firstly, bone tissue in young patients continues to grow until adulthood, which means that children can adapt more easily to this procedure and go on to lead active lives. Secondly, young children can learn more rapidly how to use the new function of their ankle, which becomes their knee after the surgery.

This is just what Amelia is slowly achieving at the moment, reports CBC. The little girl is “retraining her brain to move the foot in the direction she wants,” said Amelia’s mother, Michelle Yardley-Eldred, in an interview with the news outlet.

“She’s trying to move it to the left, but because the brain is used to her foot being the other way around, instead of going left now it’s going right,” said Yardley-Eldred.

Above all else, the family is happy that Amelia, who is very passionate about dancing, now has the chance to keep being active and lead a normal life once she is fitted for a prosthetic leg.