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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2013 Dec;22(12):1682-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2013.02.012. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

Short- or long-stem prosthesis for intramedullary bypass of proximal humeral fractures with severe metaphyseal bone loss: evaluation of primary stability in a biomechanical model.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Kantonsspital St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland.



Proximal humeral fractures with substantial metaphyseal comminution are challenging to treat. In the elderly with osteoporotic bone, arthroplasty sometimes remains the only valuable option; however, the minimally required length of stem fixation is not known. The aim of this study was to investigate the primary stability of cemented short- and long-stem prostheses with different intramedullary fracture bypass lengths.


Osteoporotic composite bone models of the humerus (Synbone, Malans, Switzerland) with 3 different fracture levels (group A, 6 cm distal to surgical neck; group B, 7 cm distal to surgical neck; and group C, 8 cm distal to surgical neck) were prepared with a cemented standard short (S)- or long (L)-stem prosthesis and were tested for torque to failure. As a reference, we used models with intact bone (group R-O) and a short-stem prosthesis implanted at the surgical neck (group R-P). The radiographic bypass index (BI) was calculated before testing (fracture level to stem tip [in millimeters]/outer cortical diameter at fracture level [in millimeters]).


The resulting BIs of each group were as follows: 1.7 in group A-S, 3.4 in group A-L, 1.4 in group B-S, 3.2 in group B-L, 1.0 in group C-S, and 2.9 in group C-L. Compared with group R-O, the torques to failure of groups B-S and C-S were significantly lower, whereas only group C-S was significantly weaker than group R-P (P < .01). Comparing short- and long-stem bypasses of different fracture heights, we found that only group C-L showed a significantly higher resistance to torque (P < .01).


A short-stem bypass with a BI of 1.7 was sufficient for primary stability tested by torque to failure in this biomechanical setting. For smaller BIs, a long-stem prosthesis should be considered.


Basic science study, biomechanics.


Basic Science Study; Biomechanics; Intramedullary bypass; arthroplasty; comminution; fracture; proximal humerus

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