Indicated surgical management of metacarpal neck fractures varies with techniques, including Kirschner wire fixation, plate fixation, intramedullary fixation, and headless compression screw fixation, without demonstrated superiority. This study compares intramedullary threaded nail (ITN) fixation with a locking plate construct.
Index through small finger metacarpals were harvested from 10 embalmed cadavers. After application of appropriate exclusion criteria, remaining metacarpals underwent neck fracture creation by a three-point load to failure. Eight samples were randomly allocated to fixation with ITN fixation, and six were stabilized with a 2.3-mm seven-hole locking plate. Samples were then subjected to a second round of biomechanical testing using the same apparatus. Ultimate load between the intact tissue and the subsequently stabilized fracture was analyzed with a paired Student t-test. Percentage change in ultimate load in the intact tissue and stabilized tissue was calculated, and the magnitude of relative difference between the two groups was analyzed using unpaired Student t-tests. Statistical difference was defined by a P value of < 0.05.
Both groups demonstrated the ability to handle a biomechanical load; however, both were significantly weaker than the intact tissue (paired Student t-test p ITN-fixed versus p ITN-intact = 0.006; p plate-fixed versus p plate-intact = 0.002). ITN samples demonstrated a higher load to failure (unpaired Student t-test p ITN-fixed versus p plate-fixed = 0.039).
ITN provides a biomechanically stronger fixation constructed for vertically oriented metacarpal neck fractures compared with locking plate fixation. Both ITN and locking plate constructs provide stabilization capable of tolerating a biomechanical load; however, both fixation modalities are weaker than the native tissue.