During the lengthening procedure, the soft tissue including muscle nerves and blood vessels also grow in response to bone lengthening. The regenerate bone is normal and patients can walk or run eventually.
His clinical success led to the spread of his work initially to the communist block of countries. By 1981, a group of Italian orthopaedic surgeons learned his technique and spread it to the West.
The technique arrived in Asia since the late 1980s. In some developing countries in Asia, the incidence of infected non-union and congenital deformities is higher resulting in vast experience in the Ilizarov technique. Advanced technique of limb lengthening and reconstruction for dwarfism, trauma or tumour replacement are also widely used in more developed countries in Asia.
The procedure can be performed both in children and adults with limb length discrepancy and deformity. In children limb shortening gives rise to limping, secondary scoliosis, increased energy expenditure and psychological problems.
When the condition is not treated and continues to adulthood arthritis of the opposite knee, and hip and chronic back pain can develop.
In children, we use it commonly for conditions including proximal focal femoral deficiency, fibular hemimelia, congenital hemiatrophy. Growth plate defects or damage due to trauma or infection can cause shortening with deformity requiring treatment.
In adults indication for limb lengthening include achondroplasia fibular, hemimelia, post - trauma shortening and poliomyelitis.
Upper limb lengthening for humeral and thumb lengthening are occasionally performed.
Other common indications for Ilizarov technique include correction of deformities and non-union. This can be done acutely or with gradual correction. Bone transport is commonly used for treating non-union. With infected non-union, it is possible to resect large segments of infected bone and reconstruct the defect with bone transport.
The technique has also been used for reconstruction of feet with a variety of conditions including neglected club foot, complex foot deformities, equinus, ankle arthrodesis and metatarsal lengthening. The results are good and patient can walk with plastigrade foot.
The Ilizarov method is also an excellent method for treatment of acute unstable fractures with substantial bone loss. Intraarticular fractures of the tibia using minimally invasive external fixators and supplementary screw fixation have produced good results in terms off bony union and knee motion.
Of special motion is lengthening for constitutional short stature. These patients are a special group where careful psychological assessment is required prior to surgery. Guidelines for minimum height vary but generally are maximum height of 155cm for females and 162cm for males. Internal bone lengthening using expandable nails are preferred to minimize complications.
A variety of implants are available to achieve the desired goal including small - wire external fixators, " Lengthening-over-nail" techniques and internal expandable nails like Fitbone or ISKD.