The fixator needs to remain in place until the bone appears fully formed. Your child’s physician will be able to tell when this has happened through X-rays. Without the fixator, the bone might collapse or reshorten.
Living with a Fixator
A fixator should provide firm but comfortable control for as long as it is worn. During treatment, there may be some changes your child will need to make to her daily routine, but the fixator will not interfere too much with normal life. As soon as the fixator is no longer needed, it can be removed quickly and easily, often as an outpatient procedure.
Adjusting the Fixator
Soon after the operation, you will be shown how to adjust the length of your child’s fixator frame. You will need to do this several times a day. This lengthens the bone by just 1 millimeter a day, which is a comfortable rate for the new bone cells to grow. Muscles, nerves and blood vessels grow along with the bone in response to this slow stretch, just as they do during a growth spurt.
By taking regular X-ray or ultrasound pictures of your child’s bones, the doctor will make sure that the lengthening isn’t happening too quickly or too slowly. Your child’s doctor may ask you to adjust the rate of lengthening as a result of the X-rays.
Even when the limb reaches the right length, your child will still wear the fixator while the bone grows strong. Your child may need to wear a plaster cast for a short time after the fixator has been removed.