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Comparison of Lag Versus Nonlag Screw Fixation for Long Oblique Proximal Phalanx Fractures: A Biomechanical Study

      Purpose

      To compare lag versus nonlag screw fixation for long oblique proximal phalanx (P1) fractures in a cadaveric model of finger motion via the flexor and extensor tendons.

      Methods

      We simulated long oblique P1 fractures with a 45° oblique cut in the index, middle, and ring fingers of 4 matched pairs of cadaveric hands for a total of 24 simulated fractures. Fractures were stabilized using 1 of 3 techniques: two 1.5-mm fully threaded bicortical screws using a lag technique, two 1.5-mm fully threaded bicortical nonlag screws, or 2 crossed 1.14-mm K-wires as a separate control. The fixation method was randomized for each of the 3 fractures per matched-pair hand, with each fixation being used in each hand and 8 total P1 fractures per fixation group. Hands were mounted to a custom frame where a computer-controlled, motor-driven, linear actuator powered movement of the flexor and extensor tendons. All fingers underwent 2,000 full flexion and extension cycles. Maximum interfragmentary displacement was continuously measured using a differential variable reluctance transducer. Our primary outcome was the difference in the mean P1 fragment displacement between lag and nonlag screw fixation at 2,000 cycles.

      Results

      The observed differences in mean displacement between lag and nonlag screw fixation were not statistically significant throughout all time points. A two one-sided test procedure for paired samples confirmed statistical equivalence in the fragment displacement between these fixation methods at all time points, including the primary end point of 2,000 cycles.

      Conclusions

      Nonlag screws provided equivalent biomechanical stability to lag screws for simulated long oblique P1 fractures during cyclic testing in this cadaveric model.

      Clinical relevance

      Fixation of long oblique P1 fractures with nonlag screws has the potential to simplify treatment without sacrificing fracture stability during immediate postoperative range of motion.

      Key words

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