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Comparison of Two Percutaneous Volar Approaches for Screw Fixation of Scaphoid Waist Fractures: Radiographic and Biomechanical Study of an Osteotomy-Simulated Model

Meermans, Geert MD; Van Glabbeek, Francis MD, PhD; Braem, Marc J. PhD; van Riet, Roger P. MD, PhD; Hubens, Guy MD, PhD; Verstreken, Frederik MD

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: 20 August 2014 - Volume 96 - Issue 16 - p 1369–1376
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.01729
Scientific Articles
Supplementary Content

Background: When a surgeon uses a percutaneous volar approach to treat scaphoid waist fractures, central screw placement is complicated by the shape of the scaphoid and by obstruction by the trapezium. In this study, we used radiographs and biomechanical tests to compare the standard volar percutaneous approach with the transtrapezial approach, with regard to central screw placement at the distal pole of the scaphoid.

Methods: Fourteen matched pairs of cadaveric wrists were randomly assigned to two treatment groups. Under fluoroscopic control, a guidewire was drilled into the scaphoid, either through a transtrapezial approach or through a standard volar approach that avoided the trapezium. Guidewire position was measured in the coronal and sagittal planes. A transverse osteotomy was performed along the scaphoid waist, and this was followed by the insertion of the longest possible cannulated headless bone screw. Each specimen was placed into a fixture with a pneumatically driven plunger resting on the surface of the distal pole. Load was applied by using a load-controlled test protocol in a hydraulic testing machine.

Results: All guidewires were inside the central one-third of the proximal pole. The guidewire positions at the distal pole differed significantly between the transtrapezial and standard volar approach groups (p < 0.001). The load to 2 mm of displacement and the load to failure averaged, respectively, 324.4 N (standard error of the mean [SEM] = 73.5 N) and 386.4 N (SEM = 65.6 N) for the transtrapezial approach group compared with 125.7 N (SEM = 22.6 N) (p = 0.002) and 191.4 N (SEM = 36.30 N) (p = 0.005) for the standard volar approach group.

Conclusions: The data suggest that, in a cadaveric osteotomy-simulated scaphoid waist fracture model, the transtrapezial approach reliably achieves central positioning of a screw in the proximal and distal poles. This position offers a biomechanical advantage compared with central placement in only the proximal pole.

1Department of Orthopaedics, Lievensberg Hospital, Boerhaaveplein 1, 4624VT Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands. E-mail address:

2Department of Anatomy and Embryology (F.V.G. and G.H.) and Laboratory of Dental Materials (M.J.B.), University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium

3Department of Orthopaedics, AZ Monica Hospital, Stevenslei 20, 2100 Deurne, Belgium

Copyright 2014 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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