Treatment of complex nonunion of the shaft of the tibia using Ilizarov technique and its functional outcome

Ramji Lal Sahu, Rajni Ranjan
Nigerian Medical Journal: Journal of the Nigeria Medical Association 2016, 57 (2): 129-33

BACKGROUND: A complex nonunion of the shaft of the tibia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with lower extremity injuries.

AIMS: The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcome of the functional and radiological outcome of complex nonunion shaft of tibia, treated by radical debridement, Ilizarov ring fixator with compression and distraction osteogenesis.

METHODS: From 2005 to 2010, sixty cases of complex nonunion shaft of tibia were included in our study. All infected nonunions were managed by radical debridement, fixed with Ilizarov ring fixator, monofocal/bifocal compression, and distraction osteogenesis. The average duration of follow-up is 36 months (26-50 months). The functional evaluation was done by using Association for the Study and Application of Methods of Ilizarov (ASAMI) scoring system and bone union with serial radiographs.

RESULTS: All patients had a successful union. The mean time for union was 7 months (5-9 months). The mean time of fixator removal is 12 months (8-14 months). Every patient had pin tract infections which were successfully treated with oral antibiotics. Four patients had an equinus deformity, one patient had insignificant limb shortening (1.5 cm), and three patients had soft tissue dystrophy. Using the ASAMI scoring system, we obtained 45 excellent, 10 good, 3 fair, and 2 poor functional results.

CONCLUSIONS: The Ilizarov technique for complex nonunions has a high rate of success in achieving union and eradicating infection, bone loss, and malalignment. Radical debridement is the key step to control bone infection.

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