Biomechanical Analysis of Retrograde Flexible Intramedullary Nail Constructs in a Simulated Pediatric Femur Fracture Model


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Abstract

Background:Various flexible intramedullary nail (FIMN) constructs for pediatric femur fractures are described; however, no biomechanical study has compared stability of medial-lateral entry versus all-lateral entry retrograde nailing. Our purpose is to compare the rotational and bending stiffness of 2 different FIMN constructs and 2 different materials in a simulated pediatric femur fracture model.Methods:Eighty adolescent-sized composite femurs were used to simulate transverse (40 femurs) and oblique (40 femurs) mid-diaphyseal fractures. Retrograde FIMN of the femurs was performed using either 3.5 mm titanium (Ti) or 3.5 mm stainless-steel (SS) flexible nails in 2 configurations: 2 “C”-shaped nails (CC) placed through medial and lateral entry sites or 1 “C”-shaped nail and 1 “S”-shaped nail (CS) placed through a single lateral entry site. Models were first tested in 10 cycles of axial rotation to ±1 N m of torque at a rate of 0.5 degrees/s under 36 kg of compression. Axial compression was performed and bending stiffness defined as the force required to achieve 10 degrees varus at the fracture site.Results:No differences were noted in rotational stiffness comparing Ti and SS nails regardless of nail configuration or fracture pattern. Comparable rotational stability was found for CC and CS configurations with SS implants for both fracture patterns. The CS construct (0.60 N m/degree) was stiffer in rotation than the CC construct (0.41 N m/degree) with Ti implants in the transverse fracture model (P<0.005). SS nails provided greater bending stiffness than Ti nails in both oblique and transverse fracture patterns, regardless of nail construct. The all-lateral entry (CS) construct demonstrated statistically significant greater bending stiffness regardless of implant material or fracture pattern (P<0.03).Conclusions:An all-lateral entry (CS) FIMN construct demonstrated greater bending stiffness in both fracture patterns and materials. Ti and SS implants have comparable rotational stiffness in all fracture patterns and materials; however, SS nails were superior at resisting bending forces in both fracture patterns. CS nail configuration and SS implants demonstrated superior bending stiffness and rotational stiffness when compared with the more commonly used CC construct and Ti implants.Level of Evidence:NA (biomechanical study).

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