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Injury. 2013 Oct;44(10):1333-9. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2013.03.013. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

A comparative biomechanical study for complex tibial plateau fractures: nailing and compression bolts versus modern and traditional plating.

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Academic dept. of Trauma & Orthopedic Surgery, Medical School - University of Athens, 12 Lontou str, Palea Penteli, Athens 15236, Greece.



To compare the biomechanical properties of a newly proposed technique, utilizing intramedullary nailing and compression bolts, for the osteosynthesis of intra-articular proximal tibial fractures with meta-diaphyseal comminution, with modern and conventional plating techniques.


Fifteen left tibia 4th generation composite Sawbones models (in 3 groups of 5 for each technique) with identically reproduced type VI Schatzker tibial plateau fractures, including meta-diaphyseal dissociation, were used. Three different techniques of osteosynthesis were tested: (a) a new technique that combines intramedullary nailing and compression bolts, (b) internal fixation with a single lateral locking plate and (c) internal fixation with dual buttress plating technique. The model-device constructs were successively subjected to 500N, 1000N and 1500N load levels with five cycles applied at each level on both articular compartments and a final load cycle to failure. Four parameters were recorded for each technique: the average reversible or irreversible displacement in vertical subsidence, the horizontal diastasis of the intra-articular fracture, the average passive construct stiffness and the load to failure.


The new intramedullary nailing technique provided rigid intra-articular osteosynthesis being statistically similar to dual buttress plating for subsidence at medium and higher load levels. At the same time the proposed technique provided statistically equivalent stiffness values to the single lateral locking plate incarnating the rational of biologic fixation. Average load to failure was 1611N for single lateral locking plates, 2197N for intramedullary nailing and 4579N for dual buttress plating. The single lateral locking plate technique had the worse results in interfragmentary displacement while dual buttress plating was superior in stiffness from the other 2 techniques. The mode of failure differed between techniques, with collapse of medial plateau occurring exclusively in the single lateral locking plates group.


The proposed new technique of intramedullary nailing and compression bolts demonstrates a flexural behaviour similar to single lateral locking plates, which complies with the terms and benefits of biological fixation, while at the same time maintains a rigid intra-articular stability similar to the stiff dual buttressing plating technique.


Biomechanical study; Buttress plates; Condylar bolts; Intramedullary nailing; Locking plates; Tibial plateau fracture

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