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Commonly Asked Questions

Q. Is the procedure painful?

A. As with any surgical procedure, patients have different levels of pain. Most patients do report pain following surgery, and some do experience pain during the adjustment process. The level of pain is, however, very individualized.

Q. Would I get pain medicine?

A. Your doctor would have to answer that question more specifically, but usually patients are given some medication for relief from pain, especially during the first few days or weeks.

Q. At what age can the procedure be performed?

A. Most surgeons prefer to wait until a child is a few years old. The procedure is generally used on patients anywhere from three to 80 years of age.

Q. Does insurance cover the procedure?

A. Yes, in almost every case, private insurance covers the procedure.

Q. Does Medicare/Medicaid cover the procedure?

A. In most cases, Medicare/Medicaid will only cover a portion of the treatment. You would need to consult your particular surgeon and hospital to find out if partial payment by Medicare/Medicaid would be accepted.

Q. Will I need to stay in bed during the course of my treatment?

A. No. After the first week, you can usually walk around quite a bit. Your doctor will give you specific instructions.

Q. Will I have a lengthy hospital stay?

A. In most cases patients undergoing treatment will stay in the hospital for approximately 7 days after the surgery is performed. Depending on each individual case, your surgeon can determine the amount of time.

Q. Can I shower or bathe?

A. Yes, unless your doctor determines that for some reason you should not. Many patients swim frequently for exercise.

Q. What kind of training does the specialist need to perform this procedure?

A. The specialist is first, an orthopedic surgeon. He or she then completes a specialty course before being certified to perform the Ilizarov technique.

Q. What is Autogenesis?

A. Autogenesis is the company that perfected the automation of the Ilizarov procedure. A physician and biomedical engineer worked with Dr. Ilizarov to develop the computer technology that has resulted in much more precise adjus tments for the patient, and has reduced patient pain markedly.

Q. Is there danger of infection from wearing this device?

A. As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection. Minor infection is common where the pins enter the skin, but, this is usually counteracted with antibiotics. But again, you should consult your surgeon for more information.

Q. Can you actually grow a new limb?

A. Any bone segment that is present can be lengthened. However you cannot create a bone where there isn't one present.

Q. Is it just used on legs?

A. No. The Ilizarov procedure can be used on most bones in the body. However, the automated form of the procedure is, at present, only used on the long bones of the body.

Q. Is this the only approach to limb lengthening or straightening?

A. There are no other forms of limb lengthening. There were other methods of straightening used in the past but the Ilizarov technique is currently the most advanced, and most frequently recommended one.