Far cortical locking enables flexible fixation with periarticular locking plates

Josef Doornink, Daniel C Fitzpatrick, Steven M Madey, Michael Bottlang
Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma 2011, 25 Suppl 1: S29-34
The high stiffness of periarticular locked plating constructs can suppress callus formation and fracture healing. Replacing standard locking screws with far cortical locking (FCL) screws can decrease construct stiffness and can improve fracture healing in diaphyseal plating constructs. However, FCL function has not been tested in conjunction with periarticular plating constructs in which FCL screws are confined to the diaphyseal segment. This biomechanical study evaluated if diaphyseal fixation of a periarticular locking plate with FCL screws reduces construct stiffness and induces parallel interfragmentary motion without decreasing construct strength. Periarticular locking plates were applied to stabilize distal femur fractures in 22 paired femurs using either a standard locked plating approach (LP group) or FCL for diaphyseal fixation (FCL group) using MotionLoc screws (Zimmer, Warsaw, IN). Each specimen was evaluated under quasiphysiological loading to assess construct stiffness, construct durability under dynamic loading, and residual strength after dynamic loading. FCL constructs had an 81% lower initial stiffness than LP constructs. They induced nearly five times more interfragmentary motion than LP constructs under one body weight loading (P < 0.001). FCL constructs generated parallel interfragmentary motion, whereas LP constructs exhibited 48% less motion at the near cortex than at the far cortex (P = 0.002). Seven LP constructs and eight FCL constructs survived 100,000 loading cycles. The residual strength of surviving constructs was 4.9 ± 1.6 kN (LP group) and 5.3 ± 1.1 kN (FCL group, P = 0.73). In summary, FCL screws reduce stiffness, generate parallel interfragmentary motion, and retain the strength of a periarticular locked plating construct. Therefore, FCL fixation may be advisable for stiffness reduction of periarticular plating constructs to promote fracture healing by callus formation.

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