Authors: T. Ty Fowler, MD; Kevin J. Pugh, MD; Alan S. Litsky, MD, ScD; Benjamin C. Taylor, MD; Bruce G. French, MD
Journal: ORTHOPEDICS August 2011;34(8):349
Fracture fixation of the medial malleolus in rotationally unstable ankle fractures typically results in healing with current fixation methods. However, when failure occurs, pullout of the screws from tension, compression, and rotational forces is predictable. We sought to biomechanically test a relatively new technique of bicortical screw fixation for medial malleoli fractures. Also, the AO group recommends tension-band fixation of small avulsion type fractures of the medial malleolus that are unacceptable for screw fixation. A well-documented complication of this technique is prominent symptomatic implants and secondary surgery for implant removal. Replacing stainless steel 18-gauge wire with FiberWire suture could theoretically decrease symptomatic implants. Therefore, a second goal was to biomechanically compare these 2 tension-band constructs.
Using a tibial Sawbones model, 2 bicortical screws were compared with 2 unicortical cancellous screws on a servohydraulic test frame in offset axial, transverse, and tension loading. Second, tension-band fixation using stainless steel wire was compared with FiberWire under tensile loads. Bicortical screw fixation was statistically the stiffest construct under tension loading conditions compared to unicortical screw fixation and tension-band techniques with FiberWire or stainless steel wire. In fact, unicortical screw fixation had only 10% of the stiffness as demonstrated in the bicortical technique. In a direct comparison, tension-band fixation using stainless steel wire was statistically stiffer than the FiberWire construct.
Key words: Medial Malleolar Fractures, Ankle Fracture Fixation Techniques