The effect of drilling and screw fixation of the growth plate—an experimental study in rabbits

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Injury of the growth plate is a specific problem in traumatology and can cause limb deformity and length discrepancy as a result of growth arrest. The purpose of this study was to evaluate alterations of the growth plate after artificially created injuries. A total of 14 New Zealand White rabbits were used for this experiment. The right and left ulna of each animal was used resulting in a total of 28 ulnae. In six animals drill holes were driven into the growth plate either from the distal/epiphyseal side or from the proximal/metaphyseal side of the physis. In six animals a fracture of the distal ulna corresponding to a Salter–Harris fracture type IV was created. This fracture was fixed by screws from either the epiphyseal or the metaphyseal side. Two animals served as controls. Histologic and radiologic examinations were performed to evaluate the growth process at 1, 2, 4, and 12 weeks following surgery. Drilling or fixation of the growth plate from the metaphyseal side resulted in temporary growth disturbance which was compensated within a short time. In contrast fixation from the epiphyseal side caused severe growth disturbances. Based on our findings K-wires or screws should be inserted from the metaphyseal side and be placed in the center of the growth plate. © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 29:1834–1839, 2011

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