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From Zaporizhzhia To Bari: Ukrainian Soldier Gets His Arm Reconstructed

Three months after his debilitating injury, a Ukrainian soldier who was previously on the Zaporizhzhia area frontline, will be able to get his arm and life back. The soldier was injured during a firefight facing the opponent in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.


 


He was transferred to Italy by an Italian Finance Police flight on July 12th. He got a severe clinical condition with a displaced fracture of the radius (an arm bone along with the ulna), which was fragmented, leading to a loss of bone substance. The lost bone substance was covered by scar tissue which impaired his limb mobility from the elbow to the hand. Such critical injuries needed expert medical staff able to perform orthoplastic surgery. 


 


What is orthoplastic surgery?


Orthoplastic surgery is a new, multidisciplinary approach to musculoskeletal problems involving soft tissue and bone.


 


It represents an evolution in the orthopedic caring methodology in the last twenty-five years, which proposes a conservative outlook to injuries previously resolved with drastic amputations. This approach requires a variety of clinical specialists working together to solve cases, primarily Orthopedic and Plastic surgeons.


 


Given the complexity of these types of surgeries, not many medical centers are capable of putting them into action. Bari's polyclinic, the "Giovanni XXIII" hospital in Italy, is one of them.


 


What is the surgical operation?


The radius bone was severely compromised and required a complete reconstruction of the bone and its missing part.


 


For this purpose, a vascularized section of the fibula (a long leg bone along with the tibia) was excised and then grafted.  After scar tissue deletion, the implant fibula bone segment is fixed in the patient's forearm using surgical plates and screws.


 


What is the recovery path? 


The first aspect to consider is the physiological time of bone healing, which is the amount of time the skeletal structure needs to be solid and stable, which lasts from four to six weeks, depending on the injury severity.


 


With the bone healed, it is necessary for the patient to undergo a rehabilitation process for limb mobility. The process can last up to six months for a complete recovery, paying more attention to pronation and supination movements which are essential for everyday life tasks.


 


In the soldier's case, a rehabilitation process for his wrist and phalanges is also necessary, as these were also affected by his injury.


 


The orthoplastic surgery was performed by surgical teams of plastic and orthopedic surgeons at Bari's polyclinic, led by Dr. Giuseppe Giudice and Dr. Biagio Moretti, respectively. Moretti, when interviewed, talked about the complexity of the surgery and the prime role of cooperation between teams with different capabilities and specializations in solving this type of complex clinical picture.


 


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