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November 13, 1991

Limb-Lengthening Technique Increasingly Used

JAMA. 1991;266(18):2523-2524. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470180023005

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A LIMB-LENGTHENING technique, originally developed in the Soviet Union, is beginning to be more widely used in the United States.

Known as the Ilizarov technique from the name of its developer, Gavril Ilizarov, MD, it has added as many as 25 cm (10 in) of new bone in patients with bone injuries, infections, or congenital defects.

Dror Paley, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, who went to Kurgan in Siberia—where Ilizarov practices—to learn the procedure, estimates that in the United States some 200 hospitals are probably doing 3000 of these procedures per year; about 1000 cases involve fresh trauma.

Variety of Approaches  The technique employs an external frame of extendable vertical bars held around the limb by two or three rings to which are attached Kirschner wires. These transfix the bone and are kept under tension. Like an erector set, the frame can