How do Plates and Screws Fail in the Repair of Femur Fractures?
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. One of the most common ways that femur fractures are repaired after traumatic injuries in an auto accident is to use plates and screws to hold the bones together. Unfortunately, these plates and screws can suffer mechanical failure after being used for femur fractures and humerus shaft fractures.
A Retrospective Study was Conducted
A study was published in the Journal of Orthopedic Trauma that discussed a retrospective study at a Level 1 Academic Trauma Center of 29 patients with an age range of 21 to 92 years. The research looked at the possible reasons for mechanical failure following treatment of femur fractures. For those unaware of possible definitions of mechanical treatment failure following a bone fracture, the study defined this as a loss of alignment at the fracture site following locked plate and screw fixation. This means that if the angle of alignment between the bone fragments changed by greater than 10 percent or if the leg was shortened by over 2 cm due to overlap of fracture fragments, the patient was labeled to have mechanical failure following treatment, placing them at risk for a number of comorbidities and complications.
How did Failure Occur?
When looking at the results of the repairs of the femur fractures in the study, they realized that the most common reason for mechanical failure was due to varus collapse with screw cut out. This means that the fracture “buckled” at a certain angle, leading to a collapse of the plate and damage to the screw. The leg collapses at a varus angle and the screws must be removed and replaced. The study described that the screw looked like a “kickstand,” as opposed to remaining straight. From this mechanism of failure, the surgeons were able to draw conclusions regarding the specific risk factors for failure of mechanical repair.
Who is At Risk?
While other studies have looked at patient-specific risk factors for failure of repair, this paper highlighted a trend in the types of fractures most prone to failure. With regards to proximal femur fractures, these are the fractures most at risk for failing repair. Because of the location within the femur and the angle at which the plates and screws have to be placed, these fractures are at risk for failing, particularly with open fractures. When screws and plates fail, there could also be product liability issues to address. It is important for patients to know what type of femur fracture they have so that they can be prepared for any possible treatment failures.
Sacramento Injury Attorneys
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Any patient who requires screws or plates to repair their fracture should reach out to my office at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. My practice has a toll-free line available at (800) 404-5400.
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Image Attribution: Sacramento Injury Attorney, Edward A. Smith