Management of massive posttraumatic bone defects in the lower limb with the Ilizarov technique

Published online: Dec 27 2010

Manish Chaddha, Divesh Gulati, Arun Pal Singh, Ajay Pal Singh, Lalit Maini

From the University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Delhi, India


Massive bone defects have been treated by various methods with variable success rates. The Ilizarov technique has been advocated as a preferred method for treatment of large segmental defects. Twenty five patients with massive post traumatic bone defects of the lower limb (22 tibiae, 3 femurs) were treated using Ilizarov's technique. After radiological evaluation, the patients were subjected to bone transport. Bifocal osteosynthesis was performed in all except those needing > 12 cm of bone transport. Distraction was started between day 4 and 7 at the rate of 1 mm per day in four increments. All were males with a mean gap of 8.9 cm (range : 5-17 cm), mean age of 28.24 years (16-40) and having undergone a mean of 2.6 previous surgeries. Mean time in Ilizarov frame was 8.8 months and external fixator index was 0.98 months. Mean duration of follow-up after frame removal was 23.5 months. Union was achieved in 23 (92%) cases. Bone grafting was required in 9 (36%) According to ASAMI criteria, bone results were excellent in 13, good in 1, and poor in 11 patients. Functional results were excellent in 6 patients, good in 9, fair in 4, and poor in 6 patients. A total of 72 complications occurred (2.88 complications per patient). Union was achieved in all except two patients. The Ilizarov external fixator offers a limb salvage solution even in large bone defects but the surgeon should set realistic goals both for himself and his patients while offering this method of treatment.