I had the incredible opportunity of traveling to the Russian Ilizarov Scientific Center for Restorative Traumatology and Orthopedics early this April along with third-year resident, Dustin Prins, DPM.
Due to the high volume of patients treated with specific injuries that require external fixation I found it very important to attend. Myself and my partners - Dr. Mark Hartman and Dr. Mindi Feilmeier -have been using and teaching this technique for several years. It is our hope that our third-year resident each year will have the opportunity to attend. The Center is world-renowned for its cutting-edge research and development in the area of orthopedic medicine. Twice a year, 12 physicians from around the U.S. are sponsored by Small Bone Innovations to travel to the Ilizarov Center in Kurgan, Russia.
As part of the 10-day SBI Ilizarov Fellowship, Dr. Prins and I were able to observe and participate in lectures, laboratory, patient wards and surgery. We also had exposure to internationally recognized experts in circular external fixation, osteosynthesis and bone lengthening techniques pioneered by Dr. Ilizarov.
Circular external fixation has been shown to have much better results for patients and is less invasive than standard fixation procedures. The most notable characteristic about circular external fixation is that there are no incisions for the patient, which mean less chance of infection and faster recovery, and preserves the soft tissues. If the bones are not healing properly or need to be adjusted, we can do it by a simple turn of a screw. Where as in traditional open techniques you have to open up the incision again and adjust or replace the plates, which exposes the patient to a higher chance of infection and a long healing period. The cutting edge technique of circular external fixation is only performed by a small percentage of the physicians in the United States.
Most outstanding during the fellowship was the interaction among physicians.
Since the physicians are employed by the government there is not a push to see a high volume of patients, thus allowing them to collaborate about best practices and future medical possibilities.
Although the trip was an exceptional learning experience for me, returning home became an issue because of the volcano eruption in Iceland, which kept us in Russia for an extra five days.
Dr. Paul Dayton is affiliated with the Trimark Foot and Ankle center, 804 Kenyon Road, Suite 310, in Fort Dodge.