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Cerclage handling for improved fracture treatment. A biomechanical study on the twisting procedure.

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AO Research Institute Davos, Davos, Switzerland.



Twisting is clinically the most frequently applied method for tightening and maintaining cerclage fixation. The twisting procedure is controversially discussed. Several factors during twisting affect the mechanical behaviour of the cerclage. This in vitro study investigated the influence of different parameters of the twisting procedure on the fixation strength of the cerclage in an experimental setup with centripetal force application.


Cortical half shells of the femoral shaft were mounted on a testing fixture. 1.0 mm, 1.25 mm and 1.5 mm stainless ste- el wire cerclages as well as a 1.0mm cable cerclage were applied to the bone. Pretension of the cerclage during the installation was measured during the locking procedure. Subsequently, cyclic testing was performed up to failure.


Higher pretension could be achieved with increasing wire diameter. However, with larger wire diameter the drop of pre- tension due to the bending and cutting the twist also increased. The cable cerclage showed the highest pretension after locking. Cerclages twisted under traction revealed significantly higher initial cerclage tension. Plastically deformed twists offered higher cerclage pretension compared to twists which were deformed in the elastic region of the material. Cutting the wire within the twist caused the highest loss of cerclage tension (44% initial tension) whereas only 11 % was lost when cutting the wire ends separately. The bending direction of the twist significantly influenced the cerclage pretension. 45% pretension was lost in forward bending of the twist, 53% in perpendicular bending and 90% in backward bending.


Several parameters affect the quality of a cerclage fixation. Adequate installation of cerclage wires could markedly improve the clinical outcome of cerclage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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