Surgical Innovation in the Cold War era: Gavril Ilizarov and his apparatus as a device for external fixation and limb lengthening

Boluwaji Ogunyemi


Gavriil Abramovich Ilizarov [1921-1992] was a researcher and innovator of orthopaedic surgery. In the setting of the second World War, he was forcibly evacuated from Crimea where he studied medicine. He finished his studies in Kazakhstan before working in rural Siberia. Being positioned behind the Iron Curtain complicated the dissemination of the surgeon’s apparatus to North America. From rudimentary materials in rural Siberia, Ilizarov pioneered an external fixator used to treat comminuted fractures and for limb lengthening.

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