Frequently Asked Questions

How fast can bone grow?

Your bone can grow up to one millimeter per day.

How long do I have to wear the external fixator?

Typical external fixator patients wear the device from four to twelve months. The severity of the problem, your health, weight, and other factors play a role in the length of time you will need to wear the external fixator. Your surgeon will be able to provide you with a timeline for your specific case.

What are the stages of lengthening/correction?

Correction/Distraction – This begins a few days postoperatively when you will begin the process of moving the struts as directed to create a space between your bones to promote bone growth. Typically, you will adjust the struts four times a day, every six hours, approximately 0.25mm each time, for a total of 1mm in a 24-hour period.

Consolidation – During this time period you will wear the external fixator, but you will not adjust the struts.  This allows time for the new bone growth to consolidate (strengthen) and prepare for removal of the external fixator.

How is the external fixator/frame attached and removed?

You will have at least two surgeries related to the frame. Both the installation and the removal of the device will require a surgical procedure in the operating room using anesthesia.

What are the chances of complications?

There is the possibility of serious complications with any surgery. External fixation cases are very complex and for that reason the risk of complications is higher.  You may have to return to the operating room unexpectedly so that your surgeon can take care of these events in a timely manner.  Your surgeon will not schedule you for surgery unless he feels that you are healthy enough to have the procedure. If you are concerned about complications please talk to us about these concerns.

When is the frame removed?

Only after x-ray and/or CT exams of the consolidated bone show it is completely healed will the frame be removed. This will be performed under general anesthesia, usually as an outpatient surgical procedure. Afterwards, you may have to wear a brace or a cast, to give the bone more time to heal.

What will my activity restrictions be after frame removal?

You may have certain physical limitations at first, depending on your bone healing progress and specific situation. Each case is unique.  Please discuss this with us at the time of your appointments as the time for frame removal approaches.