Gavriil Ilizarov

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Gavril Abramovich Ilizarov
Гавриил Абрамович Илизаров
Gavril Ilizarov
Born (1921-06-15)15 June 1921
Quba, Azerbaijan
Died 24 July 1992(1992-07-24) (aged 71)
Education Crimea Medical School
Known for Ilizarov apparatus for lengthening limb bones
Medical career
Profession Surgeon, Physician
Specialism Orthopedic surgery
Notable prizes Lenin Prize (1979)

Gavril Abramovich Ilizarov (Russian: Гавриил Абрамович Илизаров; 15 June 1921 – 24 July 1992) was a Soviet physician, known for inventing the Ilizarov apparatus for lengthening limb bones and for his eponymous surgery. He was a Hero of Socialist Labor (1981), a laureate of the Lenin Prize (1979), and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1991).

Life and work[edit]

Ilizarov was born in the town of Białowieża, Polesie Voivodeship, Poland, to a Mountain Jewish family from the Dagestan region of the Russian Empire.[1] Soon after his birth, the family moved to Qusar (Azerbaijan), where he grew up. He graduated from Derbent Medical Rabfac (an educational establishment set up to prepare workers and peasants for higher education) then from Crimea Medical School. In 1944 he was sent to a rural hospital in Kurgan Oblast in Siberia. In 1955 he became the head of Surgery Department of a hospital and a surgeon with the air ambulance.

His residency was carried out in orthopedic surgery, during which he developed an "external fixator system". In 1971 he created the Kurgan Research Institute for Experimental and Clinical Orthopaedics and Traumatology known as KNIIEKOT which was named the Russian Ilizarov Scientific Center after his death. He was the head of this center until 1991. It was said that the Center became the largest orthopedic center in the world.[who?]

Bone experiments[edit]

Ilizarov discovered that by carefully severing a bone without severing the periosteum around it, one could separate two halves of a bone slightly and fix them in place, and the bone would grow to fill the gap. He also discovered that bone regrows at a fairly uniform rate across people and circumstances.

These experiments led to the design of what is known as an Ilizarov apparatus, which holds a bone so severed in place, by virtue of a framework and pins through the bone, and separates halves of the bone by a tiny amount; by repeating this over time, at the rate of the bone's regrowth, it is possible to extend a bone by a desired amount.

Introduction to the Western World[edit]

In 1980 during the Cold War era, an Italian photojournalist Carlo Mauri, on the urgings of a Russian colleague, travelled to Kurgan 2000 km east of Moscow, in the then communist Soviet Union. He was to be treated by Ilizarov for a tibial fracture that that healed incorrectly after a skiing accident 20 years previously. Italian doctors had long given up hope of any surgical improvement to the leg. Ilizarov distracted the stiff non-union in his tibia by 2 cm, healing the pseudarthrosis, corrected an equinus deformity by distraction and lengthened his leg. On his return to Italy, the healing of Mauri's leg amazed orthopaedic surgeons. Subsequent to this, Ilizarov was invited to be a guest speaker at the AO Italy conference in 1981.

The first medical visitor was Dr. Johannes Hellinger from former GDR, medical academy of Erfurt in 03/1970. His first publication in western medical journal about the Ilizarov Method (Zbl. Chir 98 (1973) 1272-1276 "Die Behandlung von Pseudarthrosen langer Röhrenknochen mit simultaner Beinverlängerung").

The Ilizarov Center[edit]

The Russian Ilizarov Scientific Center for Restorative Traumatology and Orthopaedics in Kurgan, Kurgan Oblast, Russia, is the leading Hospital in the World that uses the Ilizarov apparatus, which is a method of transosseous osteosynthesis or Ilizarov method for surgical procedure to lengthen or reshape limb bones.

Every year over 9,000 people receive treatment and rehabilitation at the RISC RTO.[2] Patients of any country and age group can apply for treatment at the RISC RTO.[2]


Svetlana Ilizarova is his daughter. She was trained by her father at the Limb Lengthening and Deformity Correction at the Center of Reconstructive Orthopaedics and Trauma in Kurgan, Siberia. She is currently a Medical Doctor and a faculty member at Stony Brook University Hospital in Long Island, New York.

He also had another daughter, Maria, and a son, Alexander.

His grandson was resident physician completing his preliminary Internal Medicine year at Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, NY. His grandson is moving on to his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at New York University.[3]

Later life and death[edit]

Ilizarov made a trip to the United States in the early 1990s to discuss his work, which was still largely unknown there. He died of heart failure in 1992, at the age of 71.