To evaluate the results and complications of Ilizarov bone transport
in the treatment of tibial bone defects.
Retrospectively reviewed consecutive series.
Nineteen patients with tibial bone defects were treated by the Ilizarov bone transport
method. The mean bone defect was ten centimeters, and there were eight soft-tissue defects. The mean external fixation time was sixteen months. Ten patients required debridement of the bone ends and/or bone grafting of the docking site at the end of transport.
Union was achieved in all cases. One refracture of the docking site required retreatment with the Ilizarov
apparatus to achieve union. There was one residual leg length discrepancy greater than 2.5 centimeters and two angular deformities greater than 5 degrees. There were no recurrent or residual infections. Seven of the eight soft-tissue defects were closed by soft-tissue transport; the eighth required a free-vascularized flap. The bone results were graded as fifteen excellent, three good, and one fair. The functional results were graded as twelve excellent, six good, and one poor. There were twenty-two minor complications, sixteen major complications without residual sequelae, and three major complications with residual sequelae. To treat the bone defect and the complications, a mean of 2.9 operations per patient was required.
Our results compare favorably with those for other methods of bone grafting as well as with those from other published accounts of the Ilizarov
method, especially considering the large defect size in this series. The main disadvantage of the Ilizarov
method is the lengthy external fixation time.