Achievable accuracy of hip screw holding power estimation by insertion torque measurement

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Abstract

Background:

To ensure stability of proximal femoral fractures, the hip screw must firmly engage into the femoral head. Some studies suggested that screw holding power into trabecular bone could be evaluated, intraoperatively, through measurement of screw insertion torque. However, those studies used synthetic bone, instead of trabecular bone, as host material or they did not evaluate accuracy of predictions. We determined prediction accuracy, also assessing the impact of screw design and host material.

Methods:

We measured, under highly-repeatable experimental conditions, disregarding clinical procedure complexities, insertion torque and pullout strength of four screw designs, both in 120 synthetic and 80 trabecular bone specimens of variable density. For both host materials, we calculated the root-mean-square error and the mean-absolute-percentage error of predictions based on the best fitting model of torque-pullout data, in both single-screw and merged dataset.

Findings:

Predictions based on screw-specific regression models were the most accurate. Host material impacts on prediction accuracy: the replacement of synthetic with trabecular bone decreased both root-mean-square errors, from 0.54 ÷ 0.76 kN to 0.21 ÷ 0.40 kN, and mean-absolute-percentage errors, from 14 ÷ 21% to 10 ÷ 12%. However, holding power predicted on low insertion torque remained inaccurate, with errors up to 40% for torques below 1 Nm.

Interpretation:

In poor-quality trabecular bone, tissue inhomogeneities likely affect pullout strength and insertion torque to different extents, limiting the predictive power of the latter. This bias decreases when the screw engages good-quality bone. Under this condition, predictions become more accurate although this result must be confirmed by close in-vitro simulation of the clinical procedure.

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