Management of complex tibial and femoral nonunion using the Ilizarov technique, and its cost implications

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2006 Jul;88(7):928-32. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.88B7.17639.


We reviewed 78 femoral and tibial nonunions treated between January 1992 and December 2003. Of these, we classified 41 in 40 patients as complex cases because of infection (22), bone loss (6) or failed previous surgery (13). The complex cases were all treated with Ilizarov frames. At a mean time of 14.1 months (4 to 38), 39 had healed successfully. Using the Association for the Study and Application of the Methods of Ilizarov scoring system we obtained 17 excellent, 14 good, four fair and six poor bone results. The functional results were excellent in 14 patients, good in 14, fair in two and poor in two. A total of six patients were lost to follow-up and two had amputations so were not evaluated for final functional assessment. All but two patients were very satisfied with the results. The average cost of treatment to the treating hospital was approximately pound 30,000 per patient. We suggest that early referral to a tertiary centre could reduce the morbidity and prolonged time off work for these patients. The results justify the expense, but the National Health Service needs to make financial provision for the reconstruction of this type of complex nonunion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Child
  • Female
  • Femoral Fractures / economics
  • Femoral Fractures / physiopathology
  • Femoral Fractures / surgery*
  • Femur / surgery*
  • Fracture Healing / physiology
  • Fractures, Ununited / economics
  • Fractures, Ununited / physiopathology
  • Fractures, Ununited / surgery*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Ilizarov Technique / economics*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tibia / surgery*
  • Tibial Fractures / economics
  • Tibial Fractures / physiopathology
  • Tibial Fractures / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome