External fixation has evolved from being used primarily as a last resort fixation method to becoming a main stream technique used to treat a myriad of bone and soft tissue pathologies. Techniques in limb reconstruction continue to advance largely due to the use of these external devices. A thorough understanding of the biomechanical principles of external fixation is useful for all orthopaedic surgeons as most will have to mount a fixator occasionally throughout their career. In this review various types of external fixators and their common clinical applications are described with a focus on unilateral and circular frames. The biomechanical principles that govern bony and fixator stability are reviewed as well as the recommended techniques for applying external fixators to maximize stability. Additionally, we have illustrated methods for managing patients while they are in the external frames to facilitate function and shorten treatment duration.
About the HSS Journal
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal, is published twice a year, February and September, and features articles by internal faculty and HSS alumni that present current research and clinical work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine performed at HSS, including research articles, surgical procedures, and case reports.