Fracture fixation has advanced significantly with the introduction of locked plating and minimally invasive surgical techniques. However, healing complications occur in up to 10% of cases, of which a significant portion may be attributed to unfavorable mechanical conditions at the fracture. Moreover, state-of-the-art plates are prone to failure from excessive loading or fatigue. A novel biphasic plating concept has been developed to create reliable mechanical conditions for timely bone healing and simultaneously improve implant strength. The goal of this study was to test the feasibility and investigate the robustness of fracture healing with a biphasic plate in a large animal experiment. Twenty-four sheep underwent a 2mm mid-diaphyseal tibia osteotomy stabilized with either the novel biphasic plate or a control locking plate.
Different fracture patterns in terms of defect location and orientation were investigated. Animals were free to fully bear weight during the post-operative period. After 12 weeks, the healing fractures were evaluated for callus formation using micro-computer tomography and strength and stiffness using biomechanical testing. No plate deformation or failures were observed under full weight bearing with the biphasic plate. Osteotomies stabilized with the biphasic plate demonstrated robust callus formation. Torsion tests after plate removal revealed no statistical difference in peak torsion to failure and stiffness for the different fracture patterns stabilized with the biphasic plate. However, the biphasic plate group specimens were 45% stronger (p=0.002) and 48% stiffer (p=0.007) than the controls.
The results of this large animal study demonstrate the clinical potential of this novel stabilization concept.