The Ilizarov frame is used as an alternative to Precise nail for lengthening of the tibiae (Shin bones). It is not routinely used in the thigh because it is not well tolerated.
Ilizarov frame consists of rings fixed with fine wires and pins into the bone. Ilizarov frames have many clinical applications (Bone defects, infections, non-unions). In the context of stature lengthening the frame consists of four rings fixed with two wires and a half-pin per ring.
The main advantage of the frame is that it allows full weight bearing throughout the lengthening and consolidation phase, which is beneficial to the patient both in terms of day to day mobility and helping to build muscle strength and prevent joint stiffness (Mencio, 1992).
As with any surgery, there are complications associated with this method. Major complications include nerve palsy, joint contractures necessitating lengthening of a tendon, premature or delayed osseous consolidation, and permanent stiffness of the joint. Typical minor complications include pin tract infection, oedema (swelling), and transient paresthesia (an temporary tingling sensation in the skin) (Velazquez et al, 1993). It has been shown that there is a negative correlation between the likelihood of complications and the experience of the surgeon, and also that the longer the treatment time, the more likely the patient is to suffer complications.