Scientific Article|Articles in Press

Recovery of Forearm Bone Strength After Plate Removal: A Finite Element Analysis Study

Published:September 18, 2022DOI:


      The purpose of this study was to estimate the bone strength after plate removal over time and to investigate the progression of bone strength recovery.


      A consecutive series of 31 patients was investigated to evaluate bone strength before and after forearm plate removal. Patients who were included underwent plate fixation for forearm diaphyseal fractures and were scheduled for plate removal. Computed tomography (CT) scans of the entire length of the bilateral forearms were taken before plate removal and at 1, 3, and 6 months after surgery. Patient-specific CT-based finite element analysis was used to predict the forearm bone fracture strength against an axial load (N), defined as the bone strength. Bone strength was estimated by patient-specific CT-based finite element analysis at each time point.


      The mean age of the patients was 40.4 years. The mean time between plate fixation and removal was 27.5 months. Bone strength before the removal was estimated as reduced to 47% of that of the uninjured side. This was constant regardless of age group, involvement of the radius or ulna, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (AO) classification, open fracture, or type of plate. Bone strength at 1, 3, and 6 months after removal was estimated to be 66%, 85%, and 97%, respectively. The bone strength of the distal ulna was weaker than that at the other sites in the forearm and showed delayed recovery.


      Bone strength after plate removal showed recovery within 3–6 months and was fully recovered by 6 months. The degree of recovery of bone atrophy varies from site to site, and patients should be careful about refracture after removal.

      Clinical relevance

      Clinicians should be aware that bone strength may not be sufficiently restored even 6 months after plate removal of forearm fractures.

      Key words

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