PURPOSE: Surgeons confronted with a long spiral metacarpal fracture may choose to fix it solely with lagged screws. A biomechanical analysis of a metacarpal spiral fracture model was performed to determine whether 3 1.5-mm screws or 2 2.0-mm screws provided more stability during bending and torsional loading.METHODS: Second and third metacarpals were harvested from 12 matched pairs of fresh-frozen cadaveric hands and spiral fractures were created. One specimen from each matched pair was fixed with 2 2.0-mm lagged screws whereas the other was fixed with 3 1.5-mm lagged screws. Nine pairs underwent combined cyclic cantilever bending and axial compressive loading followed by loading to failure. Nine additional pairs were subjected to cyclic external rotation while under a constant axial compressive loadand were subsequently externally rotated to failure under a constant axial compressive load. Paired t tests were used to compare cyclic creep, stiffness, displacement, rotation, and peak load levels.RESULTS: Average failure torque for all specimens was 7.2 ± 1.7 Nm. In cyclic torsional testing, the group with 2 screws exhibited significantly less rotational creep than the one with 3 screws. A single specimen in the group with 2 screws failed before cyclic bending tests were completed. No other significant differences were found between test groups during torsional or bending tests.CONCLUSIONS: Both constructs were biomechanically similar except that the construct with 2 screws displayed significantly less loosening during torsional cyclic loading, although the difference was small and may not be clinically meaningful.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Because we found no obvious biomechanical advantage to using 3 1.5-mm lagged screws to fix long spiral metacarpal fractures, the time efficiency and decreased implant costs of using 2-2.0 mm lagged screws may be preferred.
View details for PubMedID 28888569