To evaluate differences in fracture site motion by using different external fixators.
A wooden dowel was used to simulate a long bone with a transverse diaphyseal fracture. Ilizarov, "hybrid," and strutaugmented "hybrid" external fixation was used to stabilize the "fracture." The wooden dowel was subjected to separate axial, four-point bending, and torsional loads. Fracture site motion in the axial plane, off-axis motion (shear and bending), and rotation were measured.
All mechanical testing was performed with a sevohydraulic test frame (MTS Systems, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.). Fracture site motion was measured with an interfragment motion device developed in this laboratory.
Comparison was made between a traditional four-ring Ilizarov fixator, a "hybrid" fixator using rings and threaded pins attached by a unilateral aluminum bar, and a "hybrid" fixator augmented with a V-shaped strut.
Main Outcome Measurement:
Load-deformation behavior in axial displacement, shear displacement, and bending displacement were compared between the different configurations under identical conditions of axial loading, torsional loading, and four-point bending. In torsional loading, rotational displacement was also measured.
The Ilizarov configuration allowed significantly less off-axis fracture site motion in all loading modes than either "hybrid" configuration while still allowing axial compression of the fracture ends.
In a completely unstable fracture with poor bone apposition, the mechanical behavior of a four-ring Ilizarov external fixator is superior to the mechanical behavior of a unilateral "hybrid" frame.