Optimising implant anchorage (augmentation) during fixation of osteoporotic fractures: is there a role for bone-graft substitutes?

Sune Larsson, Philip Procter
Injury 2011, 42 Suppl 2: S72-6
When stabilising a fracture the contact between the screw and the surrounding bone is crucial for mechanical strength. Through development of screws with new thread designs, as well as optimisation of other properties, improved screw purchase has been gained. Other alternatives to improve screw fixation in osteoporotic bone, as well as normal bone if needed, includes the use of various coatings on the screw that will induce a bonding between the implant surface and the bone implant, as well as application of drugs such as bisphosphonates locally in the screw hole to induce improved screw anchorage through their anticatabolic effect on the bone tissue. As failure of internal fixation of fractures in osteoporotic bone typically occurs through breakage of the bone that surrounds the implant, rather than the implant itself, an alternative strategy in osteoporotic bone can include augmentation of the bone around the screw. This is useful when screws alone are being used for fixation, as it will increase pull-out resistance, but also when conventional plates and screws are used. In angularly stable plate-screw systems, screw back-out is not a problem if the locking mechanism between the screws and the plate works. However, augmentation that will strengthen the bone around the screws can also be useful in conjunction with angle-stable plate-screw systems, as the augmentation will provide valuable support when subjected to loading that might cause cut-out. For many years conventional bone cement, polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), has been used for augmentation, but due to side effects--including great difficulties if removal becomes necessary--the use of PMMA has never gained wide acceptance. With the introduction of bone substitutes, such as calcium phosphate cement, it has been shown that augmentation around screws can be achieved without the drawbacks seen with PMMA. When dealing with fixation of fractures in osteoporotic bone where screw stability might be inadequate, it therefore seems an attractive option to include bone substitutes for augmentation around screws as part of the armamentarium. Clinical studies now are needed to determine the indications in which bone augmentation with bone-graft substitutes (BGSs) would merit clinical usage.

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