Automatic fracture reduction with a computer-controlled external fixator

M. Viceconti, A. O. Andrisano, A. Toni, A. Giunti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reduction of fractures by means of an Ilizarov's fixator is obtained by successively shortening or lengthening the rods. This entails that all reduction operations of the fracture stumps be performed with a series of empirical attempts, requiring great experience and manual dexterity in the surgeon. Moreover this process involves a long exposure of both physician and patient to potentially harmful radiation due to the continuous checking of the intermediate positions on the X-ray image intensifier. In order to overcome these limits a new device has been conceived, based on the application of three stepper-motors on three rods. Its basic principle is functionally very similar to Ilizarov's prototype. The relative motions between the two frames are carried out by controlling the three actuators with a computer, which processes the number of required steps on the basis of an algorithm, starting from a few inputs supplied by the surgeon. This article illustrates the functional kinematic study necessary for the complete automation of the reduction process. Also considered is the complex problem of the reduction trajectory definition, intended as a sequence of configurations of partial correction, obtained by formalizing in geometrical terms the empirical criteria followed by the orthopaedic surgeon in reducing fractures. Such a sequence is intended to be a suggestion for the surgeon who can visualize and possibly interact with the system to determine a trajectory harmless for the soft tissues surrounding the bone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • external fixator
  • fracture reduction
  • Kinematic analysis
  • robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Psychology(all)

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