Helical plating - a novel technique to increase stiffness in defect fractures

Eur Cell Mater. 2021 Aug 19:42:110-121. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v042a08.


Single-plate fixation bridging bone defects provokes nonunion and risks plate-fatigue failure due to under- dimensioned implants. Adding a helical plate to bridge the fracture increases stiffness and balances load sharing. This study compares the stiffness and plate surface strain of different constructs in a transverse contact and gap femoral shaft fracture model. Eight groups of six synthetic femora each were formed: intact femora; intact femora with lateral locking plate; contact and gap transverse shaft osteotomies each with lateral locking plate, lateral locking plate and helical locking plate, and long proximal femoral nail. Constructs underwent non-destructive quasi-static axial and torsional loading. Plate surface strain evaluation was performed under 200 N axial loading. Constructs with both lateral and helical plates demonstrated similar axial and torsional stiffness- independent of the contact or gap situations - being significantly higher compared to lateral plating (p < 0.01). Torsional stiffness of the constructs, with both lateral and helical plates in the gap situation, was significantly higher compared to this situation stabilised by a nail (p < 0.01). Plate surface strain dropped from 0.3 % in the gap situation with a lateral plate to < 0.1 % in this situation with both a lateral and a helical plate. Additional helical plating increases axial and torsional construct stiffness in synthetic bone and seems to provide well-balanced load sharing. Its use should be considered in very demanding situations for gap or defect fractures, where single-plate osteosynthesis provides inadequate stiffness for fracture healing and induces nonunion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Plates
  • Femoral Fractures* / surgery
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal*
  • Fracture Healing
  • Humans