Leg Lengthening & Reconstruction with Ilizarov Frame
to Repair Leg Broken in Two Places
It all started in April of 2004, I was in an Ultralite accident at an air show in Florida. From the crash I sustained a double compound of my lower right leg. At the hospital there, I was placed in an external fixator. For the next six months, I was told by my doctor in Michigan I was not to put any weight on the leg and that my leg would be one inch short for the rest of my life.
Shortly after having the fixator removed, things went from bad to worse. I remember going to my doctor here in Michigan and him telling me that my leg had broken again. My fibula plate had broke and the screws in my tibia had also broke, causing the original fractures to break again. The doctor proceeded to tell me “my only option” was to have the nonunion cleaned out, broken hardware removed and more plates and screws put back in. All this would cause my leg to become two inches short. Not knowing my true options, I opted for his procedure.
For the next week I sat at home searching for new options. Where else, of course, to find the latest and greatest than the Internet? I remember Googling many things from tibial nonunion to leg lengthening and finding Dr. Robert Rozbruch’s website. After just a few minutes of reading his website, I got excited but also very emotional because I realized there was a chance to truly save my leg. I immediately sent Dr. Rozbruch an email telling him of my situation and what my doctor in Michigan was proposing to do. I remember opening Dr. Rozbruch’s reply and him telling me, he could very likely help me and told me of the many cases he has treated similar to mine and he wanted to see me as soon as possible. It wasn’t a couple days later and I was in Dr. Rozbruch’s (Doc’s) office.
After just a few x-rays and a few measurements, he said he could definitely help me. Told me he could fix my nonunion and correct my leg length discrepancy all in one by using a little known device called the “Ilizarov Frame.” Being a fan of technology, I had many questions, of course. What amazed me the most about this device is that it has been around for about 50 years, but only a hand full of doctors in the United States use this technology. It didn’t take me but a few minutes to decide I wanted Dr. Rozbruch to do my surgery.
In just a few short weeks, Doc got me in, performed the surgery and all went well. It took a few months of adjustments to make my leg the right length and another 5 or 6 months of almost normal activity with the frame on to allow the new bone and nonunion to heal. All this time, I was walking, swimming, camping and doing many of the things that I would normally do. Finally, in September of 2005, Doc told me it looked ready and we were going to take the frame off. I was ecstatic to say the least – I was going to have my leg back again.
Today, I do “everything” I did before my accident. I can play with my kids, hunt, fish, camp, ride bike, swim, snowmobile, ride horses, and one of my favorite activities is spending time with my wife and kids at the sand dunes on Lake Michigan. In February of 2007, my whole family went to Disney and Epcot. I had no problem with all the walking we did. I outlasted most everyone with two good legs.
Doc and his team are miracle workers in my eyes! Many thanks to Dr. Robert Rozbruch, Dr. Svetlana Ilizarov, Dr. Austin Fragomen, Hospital For Special Surgery, nurses and all the staff.
– Patient, Chad T.