Introduction: The presence of massive soft tissue loss in open tibial fractures is a challenging problem. Acute limb shortening is an alternative solution in situations where the use of flaps is limited.
Materials and methods: A review was conducted following the Preferred Reported Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses checklist (PRISMA) guidelines. A complete search of PubMed, EMBASE and MEDLINE was undertaken. Twenty-four articles related to closure of soft tissue defects through acute limb shortening were identified and included in this review.
Results: All report on restoration of limb function without or with minimal residual shortening. The authors note a decrease in the need for microsurgery. The external fixation devices used for deformity correction after closure of the soft tissue defect by acute shortening, angulation and rotation were the Ilizarov apparatus and circular fixator hexapods mainly.
Conclusion: Acute shortening is an alternative to microsurgical techniques. A ring external fixator is useful for restoring limb alignment after closing the soft tissue defect through creating a temporary deformity. The use of circular fixator hexapods can enable accurate correction of complex multicomponent deformities without the need to reassembly of individual correction units.
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