Torsional stiffness after subtalar arthrodesis using second generation headless compression screws: Biomechanical comparison of 2-screw and 3-screw fixation.
BACKGROUND: Subtalar joint arthrodesis is a common operative treatment for symptomatic subtalar arthrosis. Because excessive relative motion between the talus and calcaneus can delay or prohibit fusion, fixation should be optimized, particularly in patients at risk for subtalar arthrodesis nonunion. Tapered, fully-threaded, variable pitch screws are gaining popularity for this application, but the mechanical properties of joints fixed with these screws have not been characterized completely. We quantified the torsion resistance of 2-screw and 3-screw subtalar joint fixation using this type of screw. METHODS: Ten pairs of cadaveric subtalar joints were prepared for arthrodesis and fixed using Acutrak 2-7.5 screws. One specimen from each pair was fixed with two diverging posterior screws, and the contralateral joint was fixed using two posterior screws and a third screw directed through the anterior calcaneus into the talar neck. Internal and external torsional loads were applied and joint rotation and torsional stiffness were measured at two torque levels. FINDINGS: Internal rotation was significantly less in specimens fixed with three screws. No difference was detectable between 2-screw and 3-screw fixation in external rotation or torsional stiffness in either rotation direction. Both 2-screw and 3-screw fixation exhibited torsion resistance surpassing that reported previously for subtalar joints fixed with two diverging conventional lag screws. INTERPRETATION: Performance of the tapered, fully threaded, variable pitch screws exceeded that of conventional lag screws regardless of whether two or three screws were used. Additional resistance to internal rotation afforded by a third screw placed anteriorly may offer some advantage in patients at risk for nonunion.
Riedl, M; Glisson, RR; Matsumoto, T; Hofstaetter, SG; Easley, ME
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