Finite element modeling of fracture compression by compression plates

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Dynamic compression plating is a common type of fracture fixation used to compress between bone fragments. The quality of compression across the fracture is important for postoperative stability and primary bone healing. Compression quality may be affected by surgical variations in plate prebend, screw location, screw torque, fracture gap, and implant material. Computational modeling provides a tool for systematically examining these factors, and for visualizing the mechanisms involved. The purpose of this study was to develop a finite element model of dynamic compression plating that includes screw insertion under torque control, establish model credibility through sensitivity analyses and experimental validation, and use the model to examine the effects of surgical variables on fracture compression and postoperative stability. Model-predicted compressive pressures had good agreement with corresponding synthetic bones experiments under a variety of conditions. Models demonstrated that introducing a 1.5 or 3 mm plate prebend (using a 4.5 mm narrow LCP plate) eliminated gapping at the far cortex, which is consistent with clinical recommendations. However, models also revealed that plate prebend led to sharp decreases in fracture compressive force, exceeding 80% in some cases. A 1.5 mm plate prebend resulted in the most uniform pressures across the fracture. Testing of a simplified model form used in previous computational modeling studies showed large inaccuracies for constructs with plate prebend. This study provides the first experimentally validated computational models of dynamic compression plate fracture fixation, and reveals important effects of plate prebend and fracture gap on fracture compression quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1133
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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