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Polymelia: Infants Born With Extra Limbs

Polymelia: Infants Born With Extra Limbs
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rare birth defects

Polymelia is a very rare birth defect that refers to infants born with one or more extra limbs. Patients with polymelia may have three legs or five arms. These extra limbs are usually smaller than average limbs and appear deformed. Polymelia is incredibly rare in humans but is often found in other species.

What Causes Polymelia?

The exact cause of polymelia is unknown. It may be the result of cell division. Some instances have been caused when an embryo forms conjoined twins, but one twin degenerates incompletely, leaving a limb attached to the remaining embryo.

Types of Polymelia

There is only one known type of polymelia.

Polymelia Symptoms

  • Born with one or more extra arms
  • Born with one or more extra legs

polymelia treatment

Diagnosing Polymelia

Polymelia is often apparent on an ultrasound when the child is still in utero. Once born, the child’s doctor may order diagnostic imaging to obtain a more detailed view of the extra limbs.

Treating Polymelia

Some cases of polymelia can be treated with reconstructive surgery to remove the extra limb or limbs. In many cases, the extra limbs are very near to vital organs and cannot be surgically removed. In these cases, the patient must adapt to living with excess limbs.

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