Mechanical torque measurement for in vivo quantification of bone strength in the proximal femur

Injury. 2012 Oct;43(10):1712-7. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.06.014. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


Introduction: Bone strength determines fracture risk and fixation strength of osteosynthesis implants. In vivo, bone strength is currently measured indirectly by quantifying bone mineral density (BMD) which is however only one determinant of the bone's biomechanical competence besides the bone's macro- and micro-architecture and tissue related parameters. We have developed a measurement principle (DensiProbe™ Hip) for direct, mechanical quantification of bone strength within the proximal femur upon hip fracture fixation. Previous cadaver tests indicated a close correlation between DensiProbe™ Hip measurements, 3D micro-CT analysis and biomechanical indicators of bone strength. The goal of this study was to correlate DensiProbe™ Hip measurements with areal bone mineral density (BMD).

Methods: Forty-three hip fracture patients were included in this study. Intraoperatively, DensiProbe™ Hip was inserted to the subsequent hip screw tip position within the femoral head. Peak torque to breakaway of local cancellous bone was registered. Thirty-seven patients underwent areal BMD measurements of the contralateral proximal femur. Failure of fixation was assessed radio graphically 6 and 12 weeks postoperatively.

Results: Peak torque and femoral neck BMD showed significant correlations (R=0.60, P=0.0001). In regression analysis, areal BMD explained 46% of femoral neck BMD variance in a quadratic relationship. Throughout the 12-week follow-up period, no failure of fixation was observed.

Conclusions: DensiProbe™ Hip may capture variations of bone strength beyond areal BMD which are currently difficult to measure in vivo. A multicenter study will clarify if peak torque predicts fixation failure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Screws*
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Femoral Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoral Fractures / physiopathology*
  • Femoral Fractures / surgery
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur / physiopathology*
  • Femur / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / instrumentation
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Torque*
  • Weight-Bearing