Finite Element Analysis of Fracture Fixation

Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2021 Aug;19(4):403-416. doi: 10.1007/s11914-021-00690-y. Epub 2021 Jun 29.


Purpose of review: Fracture fixation aims to provide stability and promote healing, but remains challenging in unstable and osteoporotic fractures with increased risk of construct failure and nonunion. The first part of this article reviews the clinical motivation behind finite element analysis of fracture fixation, its strengths and weaknesses, how models are developed and validated, and how outputs are typically interpreted. The second part reviews recent modeling studies of the femur and proximal humerus, areas with particular relevance to fragility fractures.

Recent findings: There is some consensus in the literature around how certain modeling aspects are pragmatically formulated, including bone and implant geometries, meshing, material properties, interactions, and loads and boundary conditions. Studies most often focus on predicted implant stress, bone strain surrounding screws, or interfragmentary displacements. However, most models are not rigorously validated. With refined modeling methods, improved validation efforts, and large-scale systematic analyses, finite element analysis is poised to advance the understanding of fracture fixation failure, enable optimization of implant designs, and improve surgical guidance.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Finite element analysis; Fracture fixation; Nail; Plate; Screw.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Femoral Fractures / therapy*
  • Finite Element Analysis*
  • Fracture Fixation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Humeral Fractures / therapy*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / therapy*