The influence of biomechanical stability on bone healing and fracture-related infection: the legacy of Stephan Perren

Injury. 2021 Jan;52(1):43-52. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2020.06.044. Epub 2020 Jun 26.


Bone healing is a complicated process of tissue regeneration that is influenced by multiple biological and biomechanical processes. In a minority of cases, these physiological processes are complicated by issues such as nonunion and/or fracture-related infection (FRI). Based on a select few in vivo experimental animal studies, construct stability is considered an important factor influencing both prevention and treatment of FRI. Stephan Perren played a pivotal role in the evolution of our current understanding of the critical relationship between biomechanics, fracture healing and infection. Furthermore, his concept of strain theory and the process of fracture healing is familiar to several generations of surgeons and has influenced implant development and design for the past 50 years. In this review we describe the role of biomechanical stability on fracture healing, and provide a detailed analysis of the preclinical studies addressing this in the context of FRI. Furthermore, we demonstrate how Perren's concepts of stability are still applied to current surgical techniques to aid in the prevention and treatment of FRI. Finally, we highlight the key knowledge gaps in the underlying basic research literature that need to be addressed as we continue to optimize patient care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Fracture Healing
  • Fractures, Bone*
  • Humans