Background. A biomechanical study of three sternotomy closure techniques (figure-of-eight stainless-steel wires, Pectofix Dynamic Sternal Fixation [DSF] stainless-steel plates, and figure-of-eight stainless-steel cables) was conducted to compare strength and stiffness variables in three clinically relevant loading modes (anterior-posterior shear, longitudinal shear, and lateral distraction). Methods. All tests were conducted on polyurethane foam sternal models that simulate the properties of cancellous bone. Each model was divided longitudinally and reconstructed using one of the sternotomy closure repair techniques. Tests were performed using a materials testing system that applies a continuously increasing amount of force in one direction to the model until it catastrophically breaks. A total of six trials of each fixation type in each of three test groups were prepared and tested, for a total of 54 tests. Strength and stiffness variables as well as a post-yield analysis of failure were evaluated. Results. Sternums repaired using the DSF plate system are a more rigid construct than sternums repaired using the stainless-steel wires or cables in the distraction and transverse shear modes and they are not significantly different from sternums repaired with wires or cables in the longitudinal shear mode. The DSF plate system offers a 25% improvement in resistance to failure (yield) compared to wires when a transverse shear force is applied to the model. The cable system had a higher resistance to failure than the wires in all modes although the differences were not statistically significant. Additionally, the DSF plate system provides substantial reduction of the implant's cutting into the sternal model under loading as evidenced by the post-yield displacement when compared with either cables or wires for the distraction and longitudinal shear modes. For the transverse shear mode, the cables or wires would completely fail at the load for which cutting begins for the DSF. Conclusions. Both the DSF plate system and the stainless-steel cable system offer important advantages over figure-of-eight wire for sternal closure. © 2002 by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
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