Optimizing fixation methods for stable and unstable intertrochanteric hip fractures treated with sliding hip screw or cephalomedullary nailing: A comparative biomechanical and finite element analysis study

Published:October 07, 2022DOI:



      Despite recent advances in implants and surgical techniques, catastrophic and clinical failures in the treatment of intertrochanteric fractures continue to occur, with dire consequences in an overall frail population subset. The aim of the current study is to evaluate the effect of the factors under the surgeons’ control, namely fracture reduction and implant selection, on the biomechanical behavior of fracture fixation constructs.


      An experimental protocol was conducted with the use of instrumented sawbones, in order to validate the finite element models. The implants used were the Gamma3®and DHS systems. Subsequently, a series of scenaria were considered, including various reduction and implant angle combinations. Data were retrieved concerning the peak cancellous bone stresses around the hip screw and the volume of cancellous bone in the femoral head stressed at critical levels, as well as implant stresses and stresses on the cortical bone of the distal fragment.


      All stable fracture models displayed significantly decreased cancellous bone stresses and implant stresses compared to their unstable counterparts, regardless of implant used. The effect of increasing implant angle led to a decrease in implant stresses in all models studied, but had a beneficial effect on the stresses in the cancellous bone of the proximal fragment only in the subgroups of stable fractures with both implants and unstable fractures treated with a cephalomedullary nail (CMN). In unstable fractures anatomically reduced, the use of CMN led to significantly lower peak stresses in the cancellous bone and a smaller volume of bone stressed at critical levels. Increasing the reduction angle by 5 ° led to a significant decrease in both peak stresses and volume of bone stressed at critical levels, more prominent in the sliding hip screw (SHS) models. Decreasing the reduction angle into varus by 5 or 10 ° led to a significant increase in bone and implant stresses regardless of implant used.


      In stable two-part (AO31.A2) fractures the use of the SHS appears to be biomechanically equivalent to CMN. In unstable, anatomically reduced fractures, the use of CMN leads to significantly reduced cancellous bone stresses and decreased rotation of the proximal fragment during loading.
      A reduction in varus should be avoided at all costs. In unstable fractures treated with SHS a reduction in slight valgus appears to be biomechanically beneficial. The highest implant angle that allows for proper screw position and trajectory in the femoral head should be used for stable fractures with both implants and unstable fractures treated with Gamma3®.

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