Utility of Ipsilateral Medial Fibular Transport Using the Ilizarov Frame in the Treatment for Non-elderly Patients Sustaining Massive Tibial Bone Defects as a Sequela of Trauma and Infection: A Systematic Review

  • Patricio E. Dumlao III
  • Gracia Cielo E. Balce
Keywords: Tibial bone defect (S82), Ilizarov technique (E04), External fixation devices (E07)


Introduction and Objectives. Segmental tibial bone loss from tumor, trauma, or infection is a debilitating, limb-threatening scenario where treatment principles involve aggressive resection of infected tissues usually leading to large defects requiring reconstruction. A systematic review was conducted to determine the best available evidence related to the ipsilateral medial fibular transport using the Ilizarov frame in the management of these massive tibial bone defects.

Methods. Multiple medical online database search for articles containing the keywords: ipsilateral medial fibular transport, medial fibula transport, medialization of the fibula using the Ilizarov fixator, ring external fixator, vascularized free fibula, vascularized fibula transfer, and other related MeSH terms was done. Data was summarized to describethe mean age, bone defect, external fixator time, external fixator index, and bone and functional results using the ASAMI criteria.

Results. Eight studies with a total of 43 patients with massive tibial bone defects treated by fibular transport using the Ilizarov methods were identified. The mean age was 25.27 years (6.5-44.4) with a mean bone defect of 13.57 cm (9.52-17). The mean length of follow-up was 37.67 months (18-70.2). The bone union rate was 100%. Mean external fixation time was 9.59 months (8.31-10.88) and external fixation index was 0.61 months/cm (0.52-0.70). The majority of patients have an excellent bone (84%) and functional (52%) results. The average rate of complication was determined at 0.74/patient (95% CI, 0.60-0.89). The most common complications include pin-tract infection (37%), residual loss of motion/stiffness of knee and ankle (35%), and pain on the transport site (21%).

Conclusion. Ipsilateral medial fibular transport using the Ilizarov frame provides a viable alternative treatment option for the treatment of massive tibial bone defects.