Background: Retrograde intramedullary nailing is an established procedure for tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of angle-stable locking or compressed angle-stable locking on the initial stability of the nails and on the behavior of the constructs under cyclic loading conditions.
Methods: Tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis was performed in fifteen third-generation synthetic bones and twenty-four fresh-frozen cadaver legs with use of retrograde intramedullary nailing with three different locking modes: a Stryker nail with compressed angle-stable locking, a Stryker nail with angle-stable locking, and a statically locked Biomet nail. Analyses were performed of the initial stability of the specimens (range of motion) and the laxity of the constructs (neutral zone) in dorsiflexion/plantar flexion, varus/valgus, and external rotation/internal rotation. Cyclic testing up to 100,000 cycles was also performed. The range of motion and the neutral zone in dorsiflexion/plantar flexion at specific cycle increments were determined.
Results: In both bone models, the intramedullary nails with compressed angle-stable locking and those with angle-stable locking were significantly superior, in terms of a smaller range of motion and neutral zone, to the statically locked nails. The compressed angle-stable nails were superior to the angle-stable nails only in the synthetic bone model, in external/internal rotation. Cyclic testing showed the nails with angle-stable locking and those with compressed angle-stable locking to have greater stability in both models. In the synthetic bone model, compressed angle-stable locking was significantly better than angle-stable locking; in the cadaver bone model, there was no significant difference between these two locking modes. During cyclic testing, five statically locked nails in the cadaver bone model failed, whereas one nail with angle-stable locking and one with compressed angle-stable locking failed.
Conclusions: Regardless of the bone model, the nails with angle-stable or compressed angle-stable locking had better initial stability and better stability following cycling than did the nails with static locking.
Clinical Relevance: Angle-stable locking of retrograde nails used for tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis can enhance construct stability in the hindfoot and may reduce loosening, which may help to improve the clinical outcome.