A Brief History of Limb Lengthening

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In the last 35 years, orthopaedic surgeons have witnessed 3 major advances in the technique of limb lengthening: “distraction osteogenesis” facilitated by Gavriil Ilizarov method and infinitely-adaptable circular fixator with fine-wire bone fragment fixation; the introduction of the “6-strut” computer program-assisted circular fixators to effect complex deformity correction simultaneously; and the development of motorized intramedullary lengthening nails. However, the principles and associated complications of these techniques are on the basis of observations by Codivilla, Putti, and Abbott from as much as 110 years ago. This review notes the contribution of these pioneers in limb lengthening, and the contribution of Thor Heyerdahl principles of tolerance and diversity to the dissemination of Ilizarov principles to the Western world.

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