Biomechanical Comparison of Perpendicular Versus Oblique In Situ Screw Fixation of Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis

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Percutaneous in situ single screw fixation is the preferred treatment for stable and unstable slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). The recommended screw placement is in the center of the epiphysis and perpendicular to the physis, which necessitates an anterior starting point for most SCFEs. A recent clinical study has shown good clinical results with a laterally based screw for SCFE, which is oblique to the physis. We sought to biomechanically compare these 2 techniques for load to failure and hypothesized that the laterally based oblique screw is equivalent or superior to an anteriorly based perpendicular screw.


Twenty-two paired immature porcine femurs were used to compare the techniques. A SCFE model was created in all femurs using a previously published technique by performing a 30-degree posterior closing wedge osteotomy through the proximal physis. In the control group, a screw was placed perpendicular to the slip with an anterior starting point. In the experimental group, the screw was started as close to the mid-lateral cortex of the proximal femur as possible while maintaining the screw anterior to the posterior cortex of the femoral neck and ending at the apex of the epiphysis ignoring the resultant angle to the physis for the experimental group. The specimens were then potted and loaded in a physiologically relevant posteroinferior direction (30 degrees posterior from vertical) to determine load to failure (N) and stiffness (N/mm).


No statistical difference was found between the 2 groups in maximum load to failure or stiffness (P>0.05).


A laterally based screw oblique to the physis for in situ fixation in mild SCFE is not significantly different than an anteriorly based screw perpendicular to the physis in load to failure and stiffness in our study model.

Clinical Relevance:

In light of no difference in load to failure of these 2 constructs, surgeons may be more comfortable with the traditional lateral entry point while still aiming for screw placement in the center of head.

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