Mechanical Comparison of a Type II External Skeletal Fixator and Locking Compression Plate in a Fracture Gap Model

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to compare the stiffness of a Type II external skeletal fixator (ESF) to a 3.5 mm locking compression plate (LCP) in axial compression, mediolateral, and craniocaudal bending in a fracture gap model. The hypothesis was that the Type II ESF would demonstrate comparable stiffness to the LCP. A bone simulant consisting of short fiber reinforced epoxy cylinders and a 40 mm fracture gap was used. The LCP construct consisted of a 12 hole 3.5 mm plate with three 3.5 mm bicortical locking screws per fragment. The Type II ESF construct consisted of 3 proximal full fixation pins (Centerface®) per fragment in the mediolateral plane, and 2 carbon fiber connecting rods. Five constructs of each were tested in non-destructive mediolateral and craniocaudal bending, and axial compression. Stiffness was determined from the slope of the elastic portion of force-displacement curves. A one-way ANOVA and a Tukey-Kramer multiple comparisons test were performed, with significance defined as p < 0.05. In mediolateral bending, the stiffness of the Type II ESF (mean ± standard deviation; 1584.2 N/mm ± 202.8 N/mm) was significantly greater than that of the LCP (110.0 N/mm ± 13.4 N/mm). In axial compression, the stiffness of the Type II ESF (679.1 N/mm ± 20.1 N/mm) was significantly greater than that of the LCP (221.2 N/mm ± 19.1 N/mm). There was no significant difference between the constructs in craniocaudal bending. This information can aid in decision-making for fracture fixation, although ideal stiffness for healing remains unknown.

external skeletal fixation, locking compression plate, biologic osteosynthesis, stiffness, fracture