Ilizarov's operation - all its benefits and risks

Ilizarov surgery - all its benefits and risks

The Ilizarov process is a surgical procedure in which the Ilizarov device is used to stabilize the bones from the outside, and the Ilizarov operations may be used to stabilize some fractures and to lengthen the stature.

The Ilizarov operation ilizarov operation It is an external fixation of the bones, and it is one of the common operations for the fixation of severe open fractures in children and adults and is usually used in the extremities. And associated with severe lacerations in the peripheral tissues, depending on the location of the injury and the reason for the surgery, the location of the placement of the Ilizarov fixation device will be determined, and also the duration of the installation of the Ilizarov device may be placed for several months or several years.

In this article we will present what is the Ilizarov apparatus? Also, how to deal with the Ilizarov apparatus and what are the steps, benefits and risks of the Ilizarov process?

Information about Operation Ilizarov

The Ilizarov device is one of the external fixation devices, which consists of a group of rings numbering between 2 to 6 rings, rods, an adjustable fixation nut, and Krishner wires (a pin used in orthopedics). These components help to stabilize the external bone because it is important for the formation of the internal bone.

The Ilizarov operation is a surgical operation using the Ilizarov device in the bone department, through which the bones are gradually pulled, as it depends on the body’s ability to build and form new bones between the ends of the far apart bones and gradually fill the gap between them. Therefore, the Ilizarov device is used to lengthen the bones. The bone lengthening process is a process Easy and simple, the laser device is used in many operations, such as stature lengthening and complex fracture fixation.

From the picture, we can see the shape of the Ilizarov device and how it is fixed for different bone fractures
Image showing the form and function of the Ilizarov apparatus

Cases that need an Ilizarov operation

There are many reasons and cases that need an Ilizarov surgery, such as using the Ilizarov device to curve the legs and other cases, and the most important cases that need the device are:

  • Complex fractures: When there is an open and complex fracture and when there are multiple fragments, the Ilizarov device can be used to reunite the bones together and stabilize the limb fractures.
  • Poor fusion of fractures: When the fractures heal incorrectly, which may cause complications in the joint, and when the fractures cause one limb to be shorter than the other, which causes lameness when walking, the Ilizarov orthopedic device must be used and the stature lengthening process.
  • Unconjunctive fractures: When there is a previous fracture fixed with internal metal rods, it may need, in addition to internal fixation, external fixation through the Ilizarov operation.
  • Limb deformity correction or limb lengthening: Ilizarov surgery can be used to lengthen a short limb and correct leg deformities that usually occur after a limb fracture.
  • osteomyelitis,It is an inflammation that may occur in any bone in the body, but it occurs commonly in the sites of old fractures and after surgeries, and rarely occurs without injury to the bones or undergoing surgery. Therefore, Ilizarov surgery must be resorted to after removing the inflamed parts of the bones and any internal metal work prior to the fracture.

Steps of the Ilizarov operation

The Ilizarov technique includes surgical operations using the Ilizarov device, bone cutting, and gradual lengthening of the bones. It is performed in two stages, the stage of bone cutting and the stage of cutting the cortical layer of the bone. The process of installing the Ilizarov device takes place under general anesthesia, according to the following steps:

  • Surgically excavating the affected bone and then cutting it out.
  • Passing the Kirschner wires into the bone through the skin and then passing them to the other side of the bone.
  • Connect the ends of the wires to the metal rings protruding outside the bones, and these rings are connected to each other through spiral rods.
  • Fixing the wires after tightening them to enhance stability, and then making a cut in the cortex of the bone.
  • In the end, after cleaning the wounds and installing the Ilizarov device, the surgery is completed by closing the surgical incision and making some adjustments to the screw rods connecting the rings.

To know the cost of the Ilizarov operation, as well as the price of the Ilizarov device, contact us to book your appointment, and we will tell you all the details related to the costs of treatment and accommodation in Turkey.

We note from the photo
Image showing the steps of the Ilizarov process

Post-operative Ilizarov

After installing the Ilizarov orthopedic device, the patient must follow some instructions to protect him from exposure to some complications and risks. The patient is protected from complications through the following:

  • Bed rest immediately after the procedure
  • Elevate the leg when swelling occurs
  • Avoid carrying heavy weights and not placing the total body weight on the affected limb while walking or using crutches for a temporary period
  • Some painkillers can be taken to treat bone pain after Ilizarov device installation
  • Care for and clean the staple sites as instructed by the doctor
  • Quit smoking because it speeds up recovery and reduces the duration of the Ilizarov apparatus
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, as excessive drinking can cause Osteoporosis
  • Eat bone-strengthening foods that contain: Vitamin D and calcium
  • Follow some exercises recommended by the physiotherapist in order to protect the patient from getting stiff joints and bones

The most important exercises when installing the Ilizarov apparatus

When placing the Ilizarov device for the foot, performing exercises may be difficult at first because the weight of the device may be heavy, but exercises must be done to avoid joint stiffness and muscle weakness. The most important exercises are:

  • Lying flat on your front
  • Bring your ankle towards you
  • Lying on your back
  • While sat in the chair
We notice from the picture the most important exercises after the Ilizarov operation
Image expressing the most important exercises after installing the Ilizarov apparatus

Risks and complications of Ilizarov surgery

Like other surgical procedures, the treatment of bone fractures and deformities through the process of installing the Ilizarov device carries some complications and risks, the most important of which are:

  • Sensitivity to anesthetics and complications of anesthesia
  • Deep vessel thrombosis
  • tingling sensation
  • injury bJoint stiffness
  • Paralysis of some nerves
  • Bleeding, swelling and bruising
  • Having a septic infection
  • Feeling pain in the bones

Benefits of installing the Ilizarov apparatus

Ilizarov surgeries are among the important operations that help bone growth and fusion well. This technique has many benefits, the most important of which are:

  • They help stabilize the bones and distribute pressure evenly on the affected bone. They allow the patient to move early and help bear weight during the treatment period
  • It reduces the treatment time and also the cost, as it is a simple surgical procedure that requires a short period of stay in the hospital
  • Useful for open and complex fractures as it allows bone fragments to be returned to their normal position and reduces bleeding, infection and soft tissue damage
  • Avoid limb amputation and joint replacement surgeries such as: Knee joint replacement
  • It is effective in correcting deformities and differences in the length of the limbs, and it helps to lengthen the stature, as it is used to increase the length of the short bone in the leg

We conclude that the Ilizarov operation is one of the surgical procedures used in the treatment of compound fractures, and it is also one of the operations for lengthening the stature because the Ilizarov device is multi-use, as it maintains the stability of the bones and preserves the soft tissues in order to achieve the capabilities sufficient to prolong the stature during the lengthening of the bones.


  1. Royal Berkshire. NHS
  2. Golden State Orthopedics and Spine
  3. OrthoNorCal

Common questions

The period varies from one patient to another according to the patients’ cases for which the Ilizarov device was installed, but most patients wear the device between 6 to 12 months.

Ilizarov operations are usually performed under general anesthesia, so the patient will not feel any pain during the operation.

Ilizarov surgeries are surgical procedures based on the installation of an Ilizarov device, which is an external fixation device placed to stabilize broken bones or to lengthen stature.

There are some cases that they have to rest for several days after Ilizarov operations, but most patients have to get up after Ilizarov operations and try to walk gradually because this speeds up the recovery process.

After resorting to leg lengthening operations, the length of the leg may increase between 2 to 3.5 inches, i.e. the bone length may increase after leg lengthening operations to 8 cm.

Make an appointment with Dr. Çetin Işık
In Istanbul

Make an appointment with Dr. Çetin Işık
In Istanbul