Ringed External Fixator

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Evolution of Ringed External Fixator

Ringed external fixators use rings outside the body, connected to the bone through wires and pins that are surgically placed. With these external fixators, it is possible to control movement of the bone from outside the body with limited need for incisions. The rings outside the body are most often made of light weight metals such as aluminum or titanium.

Some brands have started using carbon-fiber as the ring material as it is stiff to allow for proper manipulation and control of the bone, while not blocking x-rays which are required to evaluate bone position during treatment. At least two rings are used, one into each bone on either end of where the bone cut is performed. These rings are then connected to each other via struts, which historically were solely straight, but more recently allow for multi-directional movement between rings.

Current day ring external fixators have numerous uses within the field of orthopedics. They allow for manipulation of bone through small minimalistic incisions which is ideal in patients with poor healing capabilities. They also allow for bone lengthening and deformity correction in all planes and including rotation. The main issue with ringed external fixators for patients is that often they are not strong enough for weight bearing, so patients require crutches or wheel chair use while undergoing treatment. Other issues include high rates of pin site infections and patient psychological coping with having the external fixator on their body.

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