A New Modular External Fixator: A Retrospective Review

Camille Khalily, BS; David Seligson, MD; Robert Frangie, MD


Curr Orthop Pract. 2020;31(3):288-290. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The Dolphix is a new external fixation system consisting of relatively few components. Its modular nature allows for a variety of possible configurations, making it useful for the treatment of many types of fractures. The fixator can be adjusted after it is placed in order to improve either patient comfort or fracture reduction, and the device can be removed at the bedside under light sedation with no need for additional instrumentation. During the first year of experience with this device at our level I trauma center, fixator times have been relatively short and there have been no equipment failures or pin-tract problems. The Dolphix is a reasonable alternative to some of the more complex and costly external fixation systems currently available.


External fixation is a technique that can be used to temporarily stabilize fractures in polytrauma and for fractures associated with substantial soft-tissue damage. In 1897, Clayton Parkhill of Denver used a simple four-pin fixator to immobilize long bone fractures.[1] His device consisted of four metal screws inserted into bone and held together with plates. Beginning in 1902, Albin Lambotte further expanded the indications for fixators to many parts of the skeleton using threaded pins and variable connectors.[1] In 1938, Raoul Hoffmann further developed the technique for use in treating fractures and wartime injuries by implementing a new type of variable pin-holding clamp.[2] His design was more versatile than Lambotte's and allowed for closed reduction to be performed after placement of the fixator components.

The Dolphix (Citieffe®, Bologna, Italy) is a new external fixation system consisting of a few basic components: screws, rods, screw-to-rod clamps, and rod-to-rod clamps.[3] The rods are made of radiolucent, carbon-reinforced polyetheretherketone (PEEK). The fixator is named for the shape of its screw-to-rod clamp which resembles the shape of a dolphin (Figure 1). It is a simple and versatile option for treating many types of acute fractures.

Figure 1.

The dolphin-shaped screw-to-rod clamp.