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Biomechanical evaluation of subtalar fusion: the influence of screw configuration and placement

Sven Hungerer, Sebastian Eberle, Susanne Lochner, Michael Maier, Florian Högel, Rainer Penzkofer, Peter Augat
Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery: Official Publication of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons 2013, 52 (2): 177-83
23333056
Common surgical procedures for subtalar fusion include joint resection, autologous bone grafting, and osteosynthesis with screws in a parallel screw configuration. Although fusion is a routine procedure, the reported rates of nonunion have been high. The present study assessed different screw configurations in terms of their rotational and bending stability in an artificial bone model and cadaver bone. Arthrodesis was always performed with 2 screws. Three different screw configurations were tested: parallel, counter-parallel, and a delta configuration. Two different screw designs were used: a cannulated, partially threaded screw (6.5-mm and 8.0-mm diameter) and a solid screw with a different thread design. Eight experimental groups were investigated as pilot studies in artificial bones and then 3 groups in cadaver bones. The parameters were the primary stiffness and deflection of the construct for loads simulating the internal-external rotation and supination-pronation. Delta positioning of the screws resulted in the greatest biomechanical stiffness and the lowest degrees of deflection of the arthrodesis in the artificial bones and cadaver bones. Increasing the screw diameter from 6.5 to 8.0 mm resulted in no additional stability of the arthrodesis in the artificial bones. The results of the present study have indicated that the delta configuration for arthrodesis results in the greatest construct stiffness and lower relative deflection between the talus and calcaneus in the positions tested.

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