Effect of Plate in Close Proximity to Empty External-Fixation Pin Site on Long-Bone Torsional Strength

Fred L. Speck, Randal P. Morris, Ronald W. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complex tibia fractures are often provisionally stabilized with external fixation prior to definitive fracture fixation. Bicortical defects, such as those left after removal of a fixator pin, can decrease the torsional strength of long bone. Evaluating the effect of subsequent plate fixation in close proximity to a defect on the torsional strength of the tibia is the purpose of this study. Eight groups of 5 fourth-generation left composite tibias were tested to failure in torsion. The experimental plated groups consisted of bicortical defects at 3 cm, 2 cm, and 1 cm distal to the plate end, with 1 plated group without a defect. The control groups consisted of equivalent defects in the same distal longitudinal locations, without plates attached, as well as an unplated group without a defect. There were no statistical differences in torsional stiffness or failure torque between any of the groups. The mode of failure for all specimens with bicortical defects was a spiral fracture that bisected the axis of the defect. Based on the results of this composite tibia study, varying the proximity of a bicortical defect to a plate does not affect the torsional stiffness or torsional failure strength of the bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E108-E111
JournalAmerican journal of orthopedics (Belle Mead, N.J.)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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