Publication: Biomechanical comparison of flexible stainless steel and titanium nails with external fixation using a femur fracture model
There are several options available for surgical stabilization of pediatric femoral shaft fractures. The purpose of this study was to compare the stability afforded by Ender stainless steel nails, titanium elastic nails, and one-plane unilateral external fixators for the fixation using a synthetic adolescent midshaft femur fracture model. The anterior-posterior (sagittal plane) bending, lateral (coronal plane) bending, torsional, and axial stiffness values were calculated using 6 different fixation configurations. These included pairs of 3.5-mm-diameter Ender nails with and without distal locking, 3.5- and 4.0-mm-diameter titanium elastic nails as well as single- and double-stacked monolateral external fixators. Eight synthetic femur models, 4 each with simulated transverse and comminuted fracture patterns, were sequentially tested for stability afforded by the various fracture fixation configurations. External fixation exhibited significantly greater control of anterior-posterior angulation compared with all flexible-nailing systems. Although Ender nails were slightly superior to titanium nails in control of sagittal plane angulation, this was not statistically significant. Compared with the external fixation constructs, all 4 flexible nail constructs demonstrated higher torsional stability. For prevention of axial shortening, all fixation methods were similar for the transverse fracture pattern, whereas external fixation was superior to flexible nails in the comminuted fracture model. No significant benefit was demonstrated with double stacking of external fixators. These findings may help guide clinicians choose the optimal fixation method for treatment of pediatric femoral shaft fractures.