A biomechanical comparison of equine third metacarpal condylar bone fragment compression and screw pushout strength between headless tapered variable pitch and AO cortical bone screws

  • Galuppo L
  • Stover S
  • Jensen D
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Objectives - To compare bone fragment compression and the mechanical pushout strength and stiffness of 6.5-mm Acutrak Plus (AP) and 4.5-mm AO cortical (AO) bone screws after stabilization of a simulated equine third metacarpal (MC3) bone complete lateral condylar fracture. Study Design - In vitro biomechanical paired study of screw insertion variables, bone fragment compression, and screw pushout tests using a bone screw stabilized simulated lateral condylar fracture model. Sample Population - Six pairs of cadaveric equine MC3s. Methods - Metacarpi were placed in a fixture and centered on a biaxial load cell in a materials testing system to measure torque, compressive force, and time for drilling, tapping, and screw insertion. Fragment compression was measured with a pressure-sensing device placed between the simulated fracture fragments during screw insertion for fragment stabilization. Subsequently, screws were pushed out of the stabilized bone fragments in a single cycle to failure. A paired t test was used to assess differences between site preparation, screw insertion, fragment compression, and screw pushout variables, with significance set at P < .05. Results - Measured drilling variables were comparable for AO and AP specimens. However, the AP tap had significantly greater insertion torque and force. Mean maximum screw insertion torque was significantly greater for AO screws. For fragment compression, AP screws generated 65% and 44% of the compressive pressure and force, respectively, of AO screws. AP screws tended to have higher overall pushout strength. Pushout stiffness was similar between both screw types. Conclusion - The 6.5-mm tapered AP screw generated less interfragmentary compressive pressure and force but had similar pushout stiffness. Evaluation of failure patterns demonstrated that AP screws had greater pushout strength compared with 4.5-mm AO screws for fixation of a simulated complete lateral condylar fracture. Clinical Relevance - The 6.5-mm tapered AP screw should provide ample holding strength but would provide less interfragmentary compression than 4.5-mm AO screws for repair of complete lateral condylar fractures in horses. © Copyright 2002 by The American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

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