BACKGROUND Ilizarov non-free bone plasty is a method of distraction osteogenesis using the Ilizarov apparatus for external fixation which originated in Russia and was disseminated across the world. It has been used in long bone defect and nonunion management along with free vascularized grafting and induced membrane technique. However, the shortcomings and problems of these methods still remain the issues which restrict their overall use. AIM To study the recent available literature on the role of Ilizarov non-free bone plasty in long bone defect and nonunion management, its problems and the solutions to these problems in order to achieve better treatment outcomes. METHODS Three databases (PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science) were searched for literature sources on distraction osteogenesis, free vascularized grafting and induced membrane technique used in long bone defect and nonunion treatment within a five-year period (2015-2019). Full-text clinical articles in the English language were selected for analysis only if they contained treatment results, complications and described large patient samples (not less than ten cases for congenital, post-tumor resection cases or rare conditions, and more than 20 cases for the rest). Case reports were excluded. RESULTS Fifty full-text articles and reviews on distraction osteogenesis were chosen. Thirty-five clinical studies containing large series of patients treated with this method and problems with its outcome were analyzed. It was found that distraction osteogenesis techniques provide treatment for segmental bone defects and nonunion of the lower extremity in many clinical situations, especially in complex problems. The Ilizarov techniques treat the triad of problems simultaneously (bone loss, soft-tissue loss and infection). Management of tibial defects mostly utilizes the Ilizarov circular fixator. Monolateral fixators are preferable in the femur. The use of a ring fixator is recommended in patients with an infected tibial bone gap of more than 6 cm. High rates of successful treatment were reported by the authors that ranged from 77% to 100% and depended on the pathology and the type of Ilizarov technique used. Hybrid fixation and autogenous grafting are the most applicable solutions to avoid after-frame regenerate fracture or deformity and docking site nonunion. CONCLUSION The role of Ilizarov non-free bone plasty has not lost its significance in the treatment of segmental bone defects despite the shortcomings and treatment problems encountered.