There are several types of external fixators, each designed for specific clinical scenarios and patient needs. The three main types of external fixators are:
- Unilateral External Fixator:
- This type of external fixator consists of pins or wires on only one side of the fractured bone, connected to an external frame. It is often used for fractures that require stabilization on one side, providing support while allowing for some degree of flexibility.
- Circular (Ilizarov) External Fixator:
- The circular external fixator, often referred to as the Ilizarov fixator, consists of circular rings or half-rings that are attached to the bone with wires or pins. The rings are then connected by rods to create a circular frame around the limb. This type of fixator allows for multiplanar stabilization and is commonly used in limb lengthening procedures and complex fractures.
- Hybrid External Fixator:
- A hybrid external fixator combines elements of both unilateral and circular fixators. It may involve the use of both pins and circular rings or a combination of unilateral and circular components. Hybrid external fixators offer versatility in addressing different types of fractures and clinical situations.
These external fixators serve various purposes and are chosen based on factors such as the nature of the fracture, the location of the injury, the need for adjustability, and the surgeon’s preference. Each type has its advantages and may be selected based on the specific requirements of the patient and the characteristics of the fracture being treated. The choice of external fixator type is typically made by the orthopedic surgeon based on the individualized needs of the patient and the clinical situation.