Hello Taylor Spatial Frame No. 1!

30 Apr

In 2008, I had my first Taylor Spatial Frame (TSF) put on my left leg.  The purpose of this surgery was to straighten my leg in three planes.  I would end up with a leg that looked straight from the front and the side, and the lower bones would be aligned correctly with my knee (so it didn’t look like my leg was bending backwards). Exciting stuff!

TSFs work by positioning lengths of wire and thicker rods into the bone, then attaching them to an external frame.  The frame is adjusted daily using the ‘struts’ with incremental turns, which, then adjusts the bone positioning around the break.  Once the position is confirmed to be correct (by x-ray), the limb remains in the frame until the bone has healed and strengthened enough for it to be removed.  A clever piece of kit!

Having had a few years off from surgery, I was a little daunted by the prospect of surgery – especially as it was a type I hadn’t experienced before – a frame around my leg, with pins and rods going through my flesh and bone. Eek!  However, off I went to have the frame fitted.  I had previously been told to expect to be in hospital for around a week for the initial recovery and then I’d be allowed home for the remaining time whilst the bone was adjusted and then healed. Didn’t sound too bad, considering they were essentially drilling metal wires and pins into my leg!

Once the surgery had been done, and I finally woke up enough from the anaesthetic (!), I plucked up the courage to look at my newly kebabed leg.  There it was, with medical gauze around the pinsites (where the pins enter or leave the skin) covered in dried blood. Not pleasant, but not as gory as I had expected!  After a day or two, the TSF nurse (Mary) came to replace the gauze around the pins, and to teach Mum and I how to clean them and how to avoid the dreaded pin-site infection.  I can’t say it didn’t hurt, it did. The solution used to clean the wound, with the dragging sensation caused by the medical gauze used to clean the skin really did sting. I wasn’t impressed – and I was going to have to do this once a week for between 3 and 6 months?! This was where reality set in… I had the frame now, I HAD to do this, but I really didn’t want to! Too Late! So on we went, learning about pin-site care.  I was also taught on that same day about how to adjust the struts.  From x-rays, a computer generates a ‘program’ of turns, which you follow according to how many millimetres adjustment is required each day.  At the end of the program, your bone should then be in the desired position, at which point the turning stops and the waiting game for bone consolidation begins! The sensation of adjusting your bone with these struts is a difficult one to describe. It feels pressurised, tender, almost as though your leg is being stretched. Bizarre. It wasn’t painful though, as I had thought it might be… so, at this point in time, I was beginning to feel more reassured that it would all be okay. 🙂  After just 5 days, I was off home, with my strut turning program, medical gauze and cleaning solution, and painkillers in hand!

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