Successful fracture fixation depends critically on the stability of the screw-bone interface. Maximum achievable screw torque reflects the competence of this interface, but it cannot be quantified prior to screw stripping. Typically, the surgeon relies on the patients’ bone mineral density and radiographs, along with experience and tactile feedback to assess whether sufficient compression can be generated by the screw and bone. However, the local bone quality would also critically influence the strength of the bone-screw interface. We investigated whether Reference Point Indentation can provide quantitative local bone quality measures that can inform subsequent screw-bone competence.
We examined the associations between the maximum screw torque that can be achieved using 3.5 mm, 4.5 mm, and 6.5 mm diameter stainless steel screws at the distal femoral metaphysis and mid-diaphysis from 20 cadavers, with the femoral neck bone mineral density and the local measures of bone quality using Reference Point Indentation.
Indentation Distance Increase, a measure of bone’s resistance to microfracture, correlated with the maximum screw stripping torque for the 3.5 mm (p < 0.01; R = 0.56) and 4.5 mm diameter stainless steel screws (p < 0.01; R = 0.57) at the femoral diaphysis. At the femoral metaphysis, femoral neck bone mineral density significantly correlated with the maximum screw stripping torque achieved by the 3.5 mm (p < 0.01; R = 0.61), 4.5 mm (p < 0.01; R = 0.51), and 6.5 mm diameter stainless steel screws (p < 0.01; R = 0.56).
Reference Point Indentation can provide localized measurements of bone quality that may better inform surgeons of the competence of the bone-implant interface and improve effectiveness of fixation strategies particularly in patients with compromised bone quality.
Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2018 Feb;52:95-99. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2018.01.016. Epub 2018 Feb 3.