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Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2007 Jan;22(1):59-66. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Increasing bending strength of tibial locking screws: mechanical tests and finite element analyses.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei, Taiwan.



Healing of tibial fractures treated by locked nailing is threatened by locking screw failure. However, the effects of the design factors of the screws on their mechanical strength have rarely been studied.


Three-point bending tests and finite element analyses were used to investigate the bending strength of five types of commercially available tibial locking screws and two types of specially designed screws. Yielding strength and fatigue life measured in bending tests were correlated to total strain energy and maximal tensile stress computed in finite element analyses. Parametric analysis and design optimization were done according to the Taguchi method. Validation studies to assess the stress rising effect of the threads on the fatigue strength were conducted in two types of new screws made of either stainless steel or titanium alloy.


The yielding strength of the screws was closely related to their total strain energy, and the logarithm of the fatigue life was closely related to the maximal tensile stress with correlation coefficients of -0.95 and -0.90, respectively. Parametric studies indicated that fatigue strength of the screws was affected mainly by inner diameter (contribution, 63.8%) and root radius (27.8%). The yielding strength was determined primarily by inner diameter (88.5%). Titanium screws had a longer fatigue life than stainless steel screws, especially in screws with larger root radii.


A screw's strength is closely related to its design factors. Finite element models, which can reliably reflect the mechanical strength of screws can save time and effort during screw design. Larger root radius can effectively improve the fatigue strength, especially for titanium screws as compared with stainless steel screws.

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