Mechanical comparison in cadaver specimens of three different 90-degree double-plate osteosyntheses for simulated C2-type distal humerus fractures with varying bone densities

Ivo Schuster, Jan Korner, Michael Arzdorf, Karsten Schwieger, Gerd Diederichs, Berend Linke
Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma 2008, 22 (2): 113-20

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the bone-implant-anchorage of 90-degree double-plate osteosynthesis in simulated complete intra-articular distal humerus fractures using conventional reconstruction plates (CRP), locking compression plates (LCP), and distal humerus plates (DHP), depending on the bone mineral density (BMD) of the cadaver specimens.

METHODS: Groups (CRP, LCP, DHP, n=8; LCP, DHP, n=13) in distal humerus cadaver bones were created based on BMD. The fracture model was an unstable intraarticular distal humerus fracture with a transverse osteotomy gap representing metaphyseal comminution (AO type 13-C2.3). Flexion and extension stiffness as well as cycles until failure due to screw pullout under cyclic loading were evaluated. Estimates of BMD values, below which failure was likely to occur, were determined.

RESULTS: Stiffness values were not significantly different between groups (extension: P=0.881, flexion: P=0.547). Under cyclic loading, consistent screw pullout failure occurred at BMD values below about 400 mg/cm for CRP and below about 300 mg/cm for LCP constructs. Comparing BMD-matched groups of 8 and 13 specimens respectively, the failure rate was significantly lower for the DHP (0/8) than for the CRP (5/8; P=0.026) and tended to be lower for the DHP (0/13) as compared to the LCP (4/13; P=0.096).

CONCLUSION: Bone-implant anchorage was different between locking and nonlocking plate constructs and depended on BMD. While in good bone quality implant choice was not critical, both locking plates provided superior resistance against screw loosening as compared to the CRP at low BMD values (<420 mg/cm). Based on our laboratory results, we conclude that locking plates such as the LCP and DHP are constructs designed to keep anatomical reduction in the presence of comminution and poor bone quality in a low intra-articular fracture of the distal humerus.

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