2017 marks the 30 year anniversary of the introduction of the Ilizarov Method of limb lengthening and deformity correction to the United States by Dr. Dror Paley. It all started with a little inspiration.

Discovering Ilizarov

During his residency period, Dr. Paley learned about a Soviet surgeon named Gavril Abramovich Ilizarov. He was performing treatments that involved limb lengthening, regeneration of limb segments, correction of deformities, and other orthopedic techniques. Discovering that a group of surgeons in Italy had recently begun using the Ilizarov method, he flew to Italy to visit the Hospital of Lecco, where the techniques were being practiced. Wanting to learn more, Dr. Paley and his family moved to Italy in 1986. There he could study the Ilizarov techniques and their variations with groups in Lecco, Verona and Rome.

Eager to learn directly from the source, Dr. Paley traveled to the Soviet Union in September 1986 in order to visit the Ilizarov Institute in Kurgan, an industrial city in Western Siberia. He made subsequent trips to Kurgan in February and March 1987, before returning to Italy to complete his training in the Ilizarov method and other limb lengthening techniques.

Limb Lengthening Comes to the United States

Dr. Paley’s first opportunity to apply the Ilizarov techniques came at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. While he was there until October 1987 he performed the first 52 Ilizarov surgeries in North America. He organized the first Ilizarov course that same year. Dr. Paley then moved to Baltimore and founded the Maryland Center for Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction at the University of Maryland. At Baltimore he hosted the first ASAMI (The Association for the Study and Application of Methods of Ilizarov) in North America in 1989. The rest, as they say, is history.