Original Research| Volume 49, ISSUE 3, P248-252, May 2010

Comparison of Pullout Strength between 3.5-mm Fully Threaded, Bicortical Screws and 4.0-mm Partially Threaded, Cancellous Screws in the Fixation of Medial Malleolar Fractures

Published:April 05, 2010DOI:


      Displaced medial malleolus fractures are considered unstable and typically require open reduction and internal fixation for anatomic reduction and early joint range of motion. These fractures are usually fixated with either compression lag screws or tension band wiring depending on the fracture pattern, size of the distal fragment, and bone quality. When fracture fixation fails, it is typically in pullout strength. Failure of primary bone healing can result in nonunion, malunion, and need for revision surgery. The current study wished to explore a potentially stronger fixation technique in regard to pullout strength for medial malleolar fractures compared with traditional cancellous screws. This was a comparative study of the relative pullout strength of 2 fully threaded 3.5-mm bicortical screws versus 2 partially threaded 4.0-mm cancellous screws for the fixation of medial malleolar fractures. Ten fresh-frozen limbs from 5 cadavers, mean age 79 years (range of 65–97 years), were tested using the Instron 8500 Plus system. The median force recorded at 2 mm of distraction using unicortical partially threaded cancellous screws was 116.2 N (range 70.2 to 355.5N) compared with 327.6 N (range 117.5 to 804.3 N) in the fully threaded bicortical screw (P = .04). The unicortical screw fixation displayed only 64.53% of the median strength noted with the bicortical screw fixation at clinical failure. The current study demonstrated statistically significantly greater pullout strength for 3.5-mm bicortical screws when compared with 4.0-mm partially threaded cancellous screws used to fixate medial malleolar fractures in a cadaveric model.

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