The effect of pearl spacing on single-cycle load-to-failure and cyclic loading parameters of 2.0 mm pearl locking plates

The effect of pearl spacing on single-cycle load-to-failure and cyclic loading parameters of 2.0 mm pearl locking plates
Peer reviewed


Aims: To compare the mechanical performance and mode of failure in four-point bending of two different 2.0 mm "string of pearls" locking plates that differ in dimensions.

Methods: Ten *2.0 mm, 82 mm long, 10-hole (Plate A) and ten 2.0 mm, 69 mm long, 12-hole (Plate B) Cortical Pearl Systems were secured to plate extenders and centred beneath an Instron tensile tester in four-point bending. In all constructs, a simulated fracture gap was maintained at 33 mm. Due to differences in plate dimensions, 33 mm corresponded to four pearls (Plate A) and six pearls (Plate B). Following an initial preload of 10 N, ramped single-cycle load-to-failure at 0.1 mm/second was performed in five Plate A and five Plate B constructs. Load and displacement were recorded. Constant frequency sinusoidal cyclic loading (33 N) at 20 mm/minute was performed on five Plate A and five Plate B constructs following 10 N of preload. Maximum moment and cycle count were recorded. Testing and data analysis were completed in accordance with the American Society for Testing and Materials F382-14 guidelines. Differences in performance and mode of failure were compared.

Results: Plate A constructs produced higher mean values for bending stiffness (19.8 (SD 2.0) N/mm vs. 10.1 (SD 0.6) N/mm; p < 0.001), bending structural stiffness (0.77 (SD 0.08) Nm2 vs. 0.39 (SD 0.02) Nm2; p < 0.001), yield point (64.1 (SD 4.2) N vs. 54.6 (SD 3.9) N; p = 0.01), proof load (65.4 (SD 3.2) N vs. 55.6 (SD 4.0) N; p = 0.005), and bending strength (1.3 (SD 0.1) Nm vs. 1.1 (SD 0.08) Nm; p = 0.005) when compared to Plate B constructs in single cycle load-to-failure. Plate A constructs had a greater (p = 0.001) mean cycle count to failure (26,178 (SD 4,061) cycles) when compared with Plate B constructs (15,550 (SD 1,291) cycles). All plates failed by non-catastrophic plastic deformation.

Conclusions: Plate A, which is wider, thicker and has a greater spacing between pearls, was mechanically superior to Plate B in four-point bending under single-cycle load-to-failure and sinusoidal cyclic loading.

Clinical relevance: Although mechanical differences were identified in four-point bending, in vivo biomechanical performance remains undetermined. By selecting Plate B, the clinician may gain bone purchase through a greater number of pearls and thus screws per unit length, however, the inferior mechanical characteristics, as evaluated in four-point bending, should also be considered. Further research into the mechanical and biomechanical performance of these plating systems is warranted.

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