Patella fracture fixation with a non-locked anterior plating technique: A biomechanical study.

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OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to compare the biomechanical attributes of patella fracture fixation with either anterior plating utilizing two parallel, longitudinal 2.0 mm plates technique versus a cannulated screw tension band technique.

METHODS: Five matched pairs (ten specimens) of fresh frozen cadavers were utilized. A transverse patella fracture (OTA 34C1.1) was fixed using either two 4.0 mm cannulated screw anterior tension band (CATB) or with two 2.0 mm stainless steel non-locking plates along the anterior cortex secured with 2.4 mm cortical screws traversing the fracture site. Specimens underwent 1000 cycles of simulated active knee range of motion before load to failure destructive testing.

RESULTS: During cyclic loading there were no failures in the plate fixation group, and 2 out of 5 specimens catastrophically failed in the CATB group (p = 0.22). Average fracture displacement at the end of fatigue testing was 0.96 mm in the plate fixation group and 2.72 mm in the CATB group (p = 0.18). The specimens that withstood cyclic testing underwent a destructive load. Mean load to failure for the plate fixation specimens was 1286 N, which was not significantly different from the CATB group mean of 1175 N (p = 0.48). The mechanism of failure in the plate fixation cohort was uniformly via a secondary vertical patella fracture around the plates in all five specimens. In the CATB group, the mechanism of failure was via wire elongation and backing out of the screws.

CONCLUSIONS: Patella fixation with anterior plating technique statistically performed equivalent to cannulated screw anterior tension band in ultimate load to failure strength and fatigue endurance under cyclical loading. No failures were observed cyclic simulated active range of motion in the anterior plate group. There was a trend towards improved fatigue endurance in the plate fixation group, however this did not reach statistical significance. We believe plate fixation technique represents a low-profile implant option for treatment of transverse patella fractures, which may allow for early active range of motion, and these data support biomechanical equivalency to standard of care.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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