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Ilizarov frame

Ilizarov frame

Ilizarov frame

The Ilizarov external frame is a circular fixator composed of metal and carbon rings connected by metal rods and clickers. The Ilizarov fixator is connected to the bone with thin wires and thick pins that are used to hold the bone in place.

Ilizarov frame transformations

Ilizarov Frame Gallery (1 of 4)Ilizarov Frame Gallery (2 of 4)Ilizarov Frame Gallery (3 of 4)

After surgery care

You may shower for the first time four days after surgery. Your nurse will teach you how to care for your pin sites. Even with the best hygiene practices, it is very common for a pin tract infection to occur. It is usually easily treated with oral antibiotics. After the removal of the external fixator, the pin sites will not be sutured closed, but allowed to heal. They will typically close within four to six days and small scars will form. Sometimes these scars are large and dimpled, and other times they heal with minimal scarring.

Possible complications

  • Infection: It is not unusual to get a minor pin tract infection that is treated with oral antibiotics.
  • Damage to the nerves and blood vessels: This complication is very rare due to the close monitoring of circulation, sensation and motion.
  • Bone not healing: This may result in not achieving the length or correction desired.
  • Temporary loss of motion in the affected joint: May require that the lengthening process be slowed as well as more intense physical therapy.

Therapist with Taylor frame patient in therapy

Physical therapy goals

Following the application of a lengthening or straightening device, patients will attend physical therapy one day after surgery for stretching, strengthening exercises and ambulation training. Therapy will be performed two times a day as scheduled by your therapist.

Patients are expected to cooperate with use of positioning and positioning devices as needed to maintain range of motion (i.e. positioning in bed or wheelchair as indicated, the use of a dorsiflexion strap, shoe wedges or additional hardware on the device to maintain appropriate range).

Patients will initially begin walking on level surfaces and weight-bearing as tolerated on the involved extremity with the use of a walker or an alternative assistive device until crutches can eventually be used. Each patient will be instructed in ambulation up and down stairs. As strength and endurance improve, patients will gradually be weaned off the use of assistive devices.

Each patient's compliance with their prescribed therapy program is crucial to the success of the corrective/lengthening procedure.

Parents will be instructed in the patient's physical therapy program and updated as the patient progresses. Parents are required to participate in their child's physical therapy following discharge, as instructed by the therapist.

Following discharge from Shriners Hospital, patients and their parents will return to our outpatient clinic and physical therapy for re-evaluation once a week.

Related documents

  External Fixators: Taylor & Ilizarov Frames (Rev. 06/17)
  Download file


  • Therapy is a must! Twice a day at home and three times a week with a therapist (once during clinic appointment and twice with private therapist).
  • Shower every day to care for pin sites.
  • Avoid all nonsteroidal medications such as Motrin, Advil, Aleve and Naproxen.
  • You may swim in a chlorinated pool.
  • Weekly clinic visits are necessary at first to check on your progress.

For any questions or concerns, contact Jill Hahn, Clinical Coordinator:
314-432-3600, ext. 1300 or