The presence of screw tunnels in the femoral neck is a problem for patients with proximal femoral fractures after removal of internal fixation. The question of how much does the existence of the screw tunnels affect the strength of the femur and whether the patient needs to be protected with an adjunctive device has been controversial. The objective of this finite element analysis was to determine (1) whether the screw tunnels affects normal weight bearing after removal of internal fixation of a proximal femur fracture, (2) which screw tunnels parameters affect the weight bearing capacity of the entire femur.
The presence of the screw tunnels reduces the load-bearing capacity of the femur, and the arrangement, diameter and wall thickness of the screw tunnels affect the load-bearing capacity of the femur.
Materials and methods
Twenty patients who underwent surgical treatment for proximal femur fracture at our hospital were included in the study. Computed tomography (CT) values of the screw tunnel wall in the femur after removal of internal fixations were analysed. Mimics v16.0 and Hypermesh v13.0 software programs were used to generate 3-dimensional (3D) tetrahedral finite element models of the proximal femur with different screw tunnel numbers, diameters, thicknesses, and arrangements. An acetabulum exerting a vertical pressure load of 600N on the femoral head was simulated and the force on various parts of the femur in each model was calculated.
There was no difference in the Hounsfield Units of the tunnel walls and cortical bone of the proximal femur (893.48±61.28 vs. 926.34±58.43; p=0.091). In each of the 3D models, the cancellous bone was the first structure to reach maximal stress. The compressive strength of the femur decreased with increasing thickness of the screw tunnel wall and decreased with increasing tunnel diameter. The femoral neck model with the inverted triangle screw tunnel arrangement had the highest compressive strength.
The femoral neck with screw tunnels can withstand day-to-day stress without special intervention. For femoral neck fractures fixed with cannulated screws, inverted triangle screws are recommended; For a single screw tunnel in the femoral neck, the larger the diameter of the femoral neck internal screw channel, the weaker the load-bearing capacity of the femur.
Level of evidence
III; well-designed computational non-experimental study.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Proximal femoral fracture, Screw tunnel, Biomechanics, Finite element analysis