Computational investigations of mechanical failures of internal plate fixation

Chen, G., Schmutz, B. and Wullschleger, M. E. (2010) Computational investigations of mechanical failures of internal plate fixation. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 224 1: 119-126. doi:10.1243/09544119JEIM670


Author Chen, G.
Schmutz, B.
Wullschleger, M. E.
Title Computational investigations of mechanical failures of internal plate fixation
Journal name Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0954-4119
2041-3033
Publication date 2010-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1243/09544119JEIM670
Volume 224
Issue 1
Start page 119
End page 126
Total pages 8
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This paper investigated the biomechanics of two clinical cases of bone fracture treatments. Both fractures were treated with the same locking compression plate but with different numbers of screws as well as different plate materials. The fracture treated with 12 screws (rigid fixation) failed at 7 weeks with the plate breaking; the fracture with six screws (flexible fixation) endured the entire healing process. It was hypothesized that the plate failure in the unsuccessful case was due to the material fatigue induced by stress concentration in the plate. As the two clinical cases had different fracture locations and different plate materials, finite element simulations were undertaken for each fractured bone fixed by both a rigid and a flexible method. This enabled comparisons to be made between the rigid and flexible fixation methods. The fatigue life was assessed for each fixation method. The results showed that the stress in the rigid fixation methods could be significantly higher than that in flexible fixation methods. The fatigue analyses showed that, with the stress level in flexible fixation (i.e. with fewer screws), the plate was able to endure 2000 days, and that the plate in rigid fixation could fail by fatigue fracture in 20 days. The paper concludes that the rigid fixation method resulted in serious stress concentrations in the plate, which induced fatigue failure. The flexible fixation gave sufficient stability and was better for fracture healing.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: ERA 2012 Admin Only
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Created: Tue, 01 Nov 2011, 18:20:49 EST by Martin Wullschleger on behalf of Surgery - Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital