Purpose Surgical treatment of distal tibial fractures demands a stable fracture fixation while minimizing the irritation to the soft tissues by approach and implant. Biomechanical studies have demonstrated superior performance for angular-stable locked nails over standard locked nails in distal tibial fractures. The experimental Retrograde Tibial Nail (RTN) is a minimally invasive local intramedullary osteosynthesis, which has been under design by our group. We conducted a biomechanical comparison in composite tibiae of the Retrograde Tibial Nail against the Expert Tibial Nail (Synthes®). Our hypothesis was that the RTN would provide equivalent biomechanical stability with respect to extra-axial compression, torsion and load to failure testing, in an extra-articular distal tibia fracture model. Methods Biomechanical composite bone testing was conducted in 14 biomechanical composite tibiae in an AO 43 A3 fracture model. In both groups, triple angle stable interlocking was performed in the distal fragment. Results Results show a statistically non-significant higher stability of the ETN during the axial loading tests. Torsional stability testing resulted in a statistically superior performance for the RTN (p=0.018).Destructive extra-axial compression resulted in failure of six ETN constructs, while all RTN specimens survived the maximal load. Conclusions The experimental Retrograde Tibial Nail provides the key features for the treatment of distal tibial fractures. It combines a minimally invasive local intramedullary osteosynthesis with the ability to securely fix the fracture by multiple angle stable locking options.
BackgroundCurrently, antegrade intramedullary nailing and minimally invasive plate osteosynthesis (MIPO) represent the main surgical alternatives in distal tibial fractures. However, neither choice is optimal for all bony and soft tissue injuries. The Retrograde Tibial Nail (RTN) is a small-caliber prototype implant, which is introduced through a 2-cm-long incision at the tip of the medial malleolus with stab incisions sufficient for interlocking. During this project, we investigated the feasibility of retrograde tibial nailing in a cadaver model and conducted biomechanical testing.MethodsAnatomical implantations of the RTN were carried out in AO/OTA 43 A1-3 fracture types in three cadaveric lower limbs. Biomechanical testing was conducted in an AO/OTA 43 A3 fracture model for extra-axial compression, torsion, and destructive extra-axial compression. Sixteen composite tibiae were used to compare the RTN against an angle-stable plate osteosynthesis (Medial Distal Tibial Plate, Synthes®). Statistical analysis was performed by Student's t test.ResultsRetrograde intramedullary nailing is feasible in simple fracture types by closed manual reduction and percutaneous reduction forceps, while in highly comminuted fractures, the use of a large distractor can aid the reduction. Biomechanical testing shows a statistically superior stability (p < 0.001) of the RTN during non-destructive axial loading and torsion. Destructive extra-axial compression testing resulted in failure of all plate constructs, while all RTN specimens survived the maximal load of 1,200 N.ConclusionsThe prototype retrograde tibial nail meets the requirements of maximum soft tissue protection by a minimally invasive surgical approach with the ability of secure fracture fixation by multiple locking options. Retrograde tibial nailing with the RTN is a promising concept in the treatment of distal tibia fractures.
Retrograde tibial nailing using the Distal Tibia Nail (DTN) is a novel surgical option in the treatment of distal tibial fracture. Its unique retrograde insertion increases the range of surgical options in far distal fractures of the tibia beyond the use of plating. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of the DTN for far distal tibia fractures where only double rather than triple-distal locking is possible due to fracture localisation and morphology.
Six Sawbones® were instrumented with a DTN and an AO/OTA 43-A3 fracture simulated. Samples were tested in two configurations: first with distal triple locking, second with double locking by removing one distal screw. Samples were subjected to compressive (350 N, 600 N) and torsional (± 8 Nm) loads. Stiffness construct and interfragmentary movement were quantified and compared between double and triple-locking configurations.
The removal of one distal screw resulted in a 60–70% preservation of compressive stiffness, and 90% preservation of torsional stiffness for double locking compared to triple locking. Interfragmentary movement remained minimal for both compressive and torsional loading.
The DTN with a distal double locking can, therefore, be considered for far distal tibia fractures where nailing would be preferred over plating.
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