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The Rowley Bristow Unit at St. Peter's Hospital provides a number of orthopaedic treatments including a specialised limb reconstruction and Ilizarov service.

In this section, you can find out more about the service as well as links to patient resources and other useful information.

Please note that due to the nature of this treatment, some of the images below may involve medical or surgical procedures and may be unsuitable for certain age groups.


The history of Ilizarov Surgery at St. Peter's Hospital

Professor Gavril Abramovich Ilizarov was born in the Caucasus, in the Soviet Union in 1921. Although not formally trained as a surgeon, Dr Ilizarov regularly faced with orthopaedic conditions and, in the 1950s, he developed his revolutionary method of treating fractures, deformities and other bone defects. His techniques are based on the theory of tension stress and allows controlled, mechanically applied tension to produce regeneration of bone and soft tissue. His work remained somewhat unknown to the wider orthopaedic community until 1967 when he successfully treated Russian Olympic high jumper and world record holder Valeriy Brumel. He rose to national fame after treating Brumel's failed open tibial infected non-union, and using his now famous methods, he cured the infection, corrected the leg length and healed the bone, allowing Brumel to return to competitive high jump once more.

In 1981, Italian professor Bianchi-Maiocchi introduced the Ilizarov methods to the West.

In 1989, the first ever Ilizarov fixation in the UK was performed here at St Peter's Hospital. This gives our hospital a unique position and a legacy that sets the foundations for our unit today.

Since then, we have undertaken hundreds of Ilizarov operations at St Peter's Hospital. We now run a national teaching course for trainee surgeons on Ilizarov methods and circular external fixation, and regularly present our results at national and international conferences.

We are proud of our heritage and continue to build on this legacy by improving our services, expanding our techniques to include the latest technology in external fixation, and providing a truly world-class limb reconstruction service for our patients.


A Tibial Pilon Fracture treated with Ilizarov external fixation


A six-axis "hexapod" circular frame used for deformity correction and limb lengthening


The main indications for using the circular external fixation or Ilizarov technique are for complex acute trauma, in the treatment of non-union surgery, bone infection, for limb lengthening purposes and in the management of congenital and post-traumatic bone deformities.

We are a tertiary referral centre for limb reconstructive surgery, meaning that we serve our local community, as well as accept referrals regionally and nationally. Refer a patient to us.

We have a dedicated team of surgeons, specialist nurses and therapy staff who have years of experience in looking after patients with circular external fixators, all working together to create a world-class, professional and patient-focused service for our patients.


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