Mechanical Comparison of Cortical Screw Fixation Versus Locking Plate Fixation in First Metatarsal Base Osteotomy

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The oblique closing base wedge osteotomy has been used for surgical treatment of moderate to severe hallux valgus deformities with an intermetatarsal angle typically greater than 15°. Several postoperative complications have been identified that relate to failure of the fixation construct used to fixate the osteotomy, especially when that construct has been subjected to a vertical load. We performed a mechanical analysis comparing 2 constructs used to fixate oblique osteotomies of the first metatarsal using composite first metatarsals. An oblique base osteotomy was uniformly performed on 40 composite first metatarsals. Of the 40 specimens, 20 were fixated with a locking plate construct and 18 with a cortical screw construct, consisting of an anchor and compression screw (2 specimens from the latter group were excluded because of hinge fracture). Each specimen was loaded in a materials testing machine to measure the maximum load at construct failure when a vertical force was applied to the plantar aspect of the metatarsal head. The mean load to failure for the locking plate construct was significantly greater than the cortical screw construct (190.0 ± 70 N versus 110.3 ± 20.3 N, p < .001). Our study results have demonstrated that the locking plate construct was able to withstand a significantly greater vertical load before failure than was the 2-cortical screw construct in oblique osteotomies performed at the base of composite first metatarsals.

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