Vertically oriented femoral neck fractures: mechanical analysis of four fixation techniques

Arash Aminian, Fan Gao, Wasyl W Fedoriw, Li-Qun Zhang, David M Kalainov, Bradley R Merk
Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma 2007, 21 (8): 544-8

OBJECTIVE: Femoral neck fractures in young individuals are typically high angled shear fractures. These injuries are difficult to stabilize due to a strong varus displacement force across the hip with weight bearing. The purpose of this study was to compare the biomechanical stability of four differing fixation techniques for stabilizing vertical shear femoral neck fractures.

METHODS: Vertical femoral neck fracture stability was assessed using 4 surgical constructs in 32 cadaveric femurs: 7.3 mm cannulated screws placed in a triangular configuration (group 1), a 135-degree dynamic hip screw (group 2), a 95-degree dynamic condylar screw (group 3), and a locking proximal femoral plate (group 4). The 4 groups were matched for mean bone density and each specimen was tested under incremental loading, cyclical loading, and loading to failure. The modes of fixation failure were recorded for each specimen and the mean group stiffness, failure loads, and failure energies were calculated.

RESULTS: All 8 specimens failed during incremental loading in group 1. Five of 8 constructs failed with incremental loading, and 3 failed with cyclical testing in group 2. The combined 16 specimens in groups 3 and 4 survived both incremental and cyclical loading. The differences in stiffness, failure loads, and failure energies between the 4 groups were statistically significant (P < 0.001). The strongest construct was the locking plate and the weakest construct was the 7.3-mm cannulated screw configuration. The cannulated screw configuration group failed as the screws backed out of the femoral head and by varus collapse of the osteotomy; the fixed angled devices all failed at the bone-implant interface.

CONCLUSIONS: The strongest construct for stabilizing a vertical shear femoral neck fracture is the proximal femoral locking plate, followed in descending order by the dynamic condylar screw, the dynamic hip screw, and the 3 cannulated screw configuration.

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