There are multiple options available for the management of large tibial defects. The Ilizarov frame is one of the most widely used techniques due to the physiological bone growth and the symmetrical distribution of axial forces permitting adequate bone distribution. However, disadvantages still remain including obtaining additional soft-tissue access for defect coverage. We present our experience with soft-tissue reconstruction for chronic infected tibial nonunions using free tissue transfers simultaneously with Ilizarov device placement. A retrospective review was performed from 2014 to 2016 of patients presenting with a chronically infected tibia nonunion and treated by our senior orthopedic and plastic surgeons. Demographic data, comorbidities, intraoperative details and postoperative outcomes were collected. A total of 6 patients were identified with a mean age of 46.2 ± 11.6 years. Complete flap survival and resolved active infection were achieved in 5 of our patients, 4 demonstrated body union on imaging, and all of them reached complete ambulance. Flap revisions with allografting for partial flap loss were performed in 1 patient. Preoperative planning is critical for immediate lower extremity reconstruction in the setting of an Ilizarov frame. From our institutional experience, free tissue transfer can safely be placed after frame placement.
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