Biomechanical evaluation of the docking nail concept in periprosthetic fracture fixation around a stemmed total knee arthroplasty

J Biomech. 2021 Jan 22;115:110109. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2020.110109. Epub 2020 Nov 18.


Intramedullary femoral nails provide an ideal mechanical axis for periprosthetic fracture fixation. Slotted nails allow a connection to a total knee arthroplasty (TKA) stem. This study aims to compare implant and construct stiffness, interfragmentary movement and cycles to failure between an antegrade slotted femoral nail construct docked to a TKA stem and a distal femoral locking plate in a human periprosthetic femoral fracture model. In eight pairs of fresh-frozen human femora with stalked TKA, a 10 mm transverse osteotomy gap was set simulating a Rorabeck type II, Su type I fracture. The femora were pairwise instrumented with either an antegrade slotted nail coupled to the prosthesis stem, or a locking plate. Cyclic testing with a progressively increasing physiologic loading profile was performed at 2 Hz until catastrophic construct failure. Relative movement at the osteotomy site was monitored by means of optical motion tracking. In addition, four-point bending implant stiffness, torsional implant stiffness and frictional fit of the stem-nail connection were investigated via separate non-destructive tests. Intramedullary nails exhibited significantly higher four-point bending and significantly lower torsional implant stiffness than plates, P < 0.01. Increasing difference between nail and stem diameters decreased frictional fit at the stem-nail junction. Nail constructs provided significantly higher initial axial bending stiffness and cycles to failure (200 ± 83 N/mm; 16'871 ± 5'227) compared to plate constructs (93 ± 35 N/mm; 7'562 ± 1'064), P = 0.01. Relative axial translation at osteotomy level after 2'500 cycles was significantly smaller for nail fixation (0.14 ± 0.11 mm) compared with plate fixation (0.99 ± 0.20 mm), P < 0.01. From a biomechanical perspective, the docking nail concept offers higher initial and secondary stability under dynamic axial loading versus plating in TKA periprosthetic fracture fixation.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Intramedullary nail; Knee arthroplasty; Periprosthetic fracture; Plate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Plates
  • Femoral Fractures* / surgery
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal
  • Fracture Fixation, Intramedullary*
  • Humans
  • Periprosthetic Fractures* / surgery