Comparison of the effect of stainless steel and titanium low-contact dynamic compression plate application on the vascularity and mechanical properties of cortical bone after fracture.
Orthopaedic research laboratory.
Ten large (greater than twenty-five kilogram) adult dogs.
A short, midshaft spiral tibial fracture was created, followed by lag screw fixation and neutralization with an eight-hole, 3.5-millimeter, low-contact dynamic compression plate (LCDCP) made of either 316L stainless steel (n = five) or commercially pure titanium (n = five). After surgery, animals were kept with unrestricted weight-bearing in individual stalls for ten weeks.
Main Outcome Measurements:
Cortical bone blood flow was assessed by laser Doppler flowmetry using a standard metal-shafted probe (Periflux Pf303, Perimed, Jarfalla, Sweden) applied through holes in the custom-made LCDCPs at five sites. Bone blood flow was determined at four times: (a) prefracture, (b) postfracture, (c) postplating, and (d) ten weeks postplating. After the dogs were killed, the implant was removed and both the treated tibia and contralateral tibia were tested for bending stiffness and load to failure.
Fracture creation decreased cortical perfusion in both groups at the fracture site (p = 0.02). The application of neither stainless steel nor titanium LCDCPs further decreased cortical bone blood flow after fracture creation. However, at ten weeks postplating, cortical perfusion significantly increased compared with acute postplating levels in the stainless steel (p = 0.003) and titanium (p = 0.001) groups. Cortical bone blood flow ten weeks postplating was not significantly different between the titanium group and the stainless steel group. Biomechanical tests performed on the tibiae with the plates removed did not reveal any differences in bending stiffness nor load required to cause failure between the two groups.
Both titanium and stainless steel LCDCPs were equally effective in allowing revascularization, and neither provided a significant advantage in biomechanical properties of fracture healing at ten weeks.