Torsional Growth Modulation of Long Bones by Oblique Plating in a Rabbit Model

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Abstract

Background:

There is evidence that oblique tension band plating can affect torsional growth in long bones. This study sought to determine if the torsional growth could be modulated based on the angles of the tension band plating and whether or not oblique plating affected overall longitudinal growth.

Methods:

New Zealand White rabbits (10.5 wk old) had one screw placed on the metaphyseal side and one on the epiphyseal side of both medial and lateral sides of the right knee distal femoral physis. The sham group (n=5) included screw placement only. For the plate group (n=13), unlocked plates, angled from 0 to 76 degrees, connected the screws and spanned the physis. Radiographs were taken at biweekly intervals. After 6 weeks of growth, hindlimbs were harvested and microCT scans performed. Femoral length, distances between screw heads and angle between the plates were measured on radiographs. Femoral length differences were compared between groups. Femoral version was measured from 3D microCT. Plate angle changes were correlated to the difference in femoral version between limbs using Pearson correlation (significance was set to P<0.05 for all comparisons).

Results:

Femur length difference between the contralateral and the operative side was significantly greater in the plate group compared with the sham group over time (P=0.049). Medial and lateral screw distances changed significantly more in the sham group than the plate group on both sides (P<0.001). A greater initial angle between plates resulted in a greater change in the angle between plates (P<0.001). Significant correlations were found between right-left side femoral version differences and initial plate angle (P=0.003) and plate angle change (P=0.014).

Conclusions:

The torsional effect of oblique plating seems to correlate with the amount of initial plate angle, with an additional, not negligible, longitudinal growth effect.

Clinical Significance:

Placing plates at given angles across open physes may result in predictable changes in bone torsion allowing for a safer and less invasive option when treating childhood torsional deformities, but the resulting shortening of the ipsilateral femur must be considered.

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