We compared the biomechanical stability of bone-plate constructs using a compression plate (CP), an internal fixator (IF), and a combination plate (CP/IF).
Standardized simulated shaft fractures with a segmental defect in composite bones (n = 60) and intraarticular distal femur fractures with a comminuted supracondylar zone in fresh frozen cadaveric femurs (n = 36) were stabilized by CP, IF, and CP/IF. Construct stiffness, plastic deformation, and fixation strength were measured under axial compression and torsion using a biaxial testing machine.
The experimental results indicate for the distal femur fracture model that IF has less loss of reduction by plastic deformation under axial load compared to CP (IF 61% of CP). Under torsion, the CP showed significantly (P < 0.05) decreased plastic deformation compared to the IF (CP 51% of IF). The combination (CP/IF) of the 2 fixation principles generally resulted in a higher load to failure under axial compression and torsion (145% failure load of CP and 118% of IF under axial compression, 88% of CP and 109% of IF under torsion). Results were similar between the 2 fracture models.
Under compression, IF provides similar fixation in comminuted fractures and was better than the CP for avoiding loss of reduction, whereas under torsional loading, CP was more important for stiffness, plastic deformation, and load to failure than IF. However, combination (CP/IF) fixation seems advisable in intraarticular and extraarticular fractures of long bones with a metaphyseal comminution. These data may be utilized by surgeons to build a more specific treatment plan in patients with these fracture types.