External Fixator FAQS

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?

Typically patients wear the device for four to twelve months. The condition of your bone, your health, your weight, and other factors play a role in the length of time you will need to wear the frame. 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 as you begin adjusting the struts to manipulate the bones into position. 

Consolidation – During this period you will not adjust the struts. This period allows for new bone to consolidate (strengthen) in preparation for removal of the frame.

How is the 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 necessitate the operating room using anesthesia.

What are the chances of complications?

Serious complications can occur with any surgery. External fixation cases are very complex and for that reason the risk of complications is much higher. Please keep in mind, often times these are salvage cases for limbs that would otherwise be amputated. These may be long surgeries with multiple procedures being performed simultaneously.

When is the frame removed?

After radiographs of the consolidated bone show it is healed the frame be removed. The frame removal will be performed under general anesthesia, usually as an outpatient surgical procedure. After frame removal you may have to wear a brace or a cast, to give the bone more time to remodel and mature.

What will my activity restrictions be after frame removal?

You may have certain physical limitations at first, depending on your bone healing progress. Each case is unique.  Discuss this with us at your appointments when the time for frame removal approaches.