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Injury. 2000 Sep;31 Suppl 3:C37-44.

Strain distribution in plated and unplated sheep tibia an in vivo experiment.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kantonsspital, Fribourg, Switzerland.


After plate osteosynthesis changes in bone biology and bone mechanics are observed in the plated bone segment. Compromise of the vascular supply in the plate bed leads to a remodelling process and to a temporary porosity in the bone cortex underneath the plate. In addition, the plate takes over some of the physiological loading of the bone, which in turn alters the normal strain distribution of the cortical bone tissue. The aim of the present study is to determine the tissue deformation of the sheep tibia in vivo and the changes in tissue strain due to plating with plates of different rigidities. Measurements were performed on the intact bone at the mid diaphysis using the strain gauge technique. With different connections on the tension bridge (Wheatstone bridge), the strain was measured separately for pure axial loading, bending, and torsion before and after plating with a 4.5 mm stainless steel or titanium DCP. Under physiological load the sheep tibia is mainly deformed in torsion (62%) and bending (33%), and much less in axial loading (5%). Plating with a steel plate reduces the overall tissue strain by 18%, with a titanium plate by 13%. This reduction is mainly due to a reduction in axial tissue strain due to axial loading and bending and less to the reduction of tissue strain under torsion. In our in vivo model, plating with steel or titanium plates leads to a reduction of the physiological tissue strains. The difference between the different plates is small due to the fact that the high tissue strain under torsion is only slightly affected by plating. Thus, from the purely mechanical point of view and with regard to preserving normal tissue strains as much as possible, titanium plates offer little advantage compared with stainless steel plates. But, titanium as an implant material may offer advantages with respect to tissue compatibility and infection resistance.

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