Background: Pelvic ring–comminuted transforaminal sacral fracture injuries are rotationally and vertically unstable and have a high rate of failure.
Objective: Our study purpose was to use three-dimensional (3D) optical tracking to detect onset location of bone–implant interface failure and measure the distances and angles between screws and line of applied force for correlation to strength of pelvic fracture fixation techniques.
Methods: 3D relative motion across sacral–rami fractures and screws relative to bone was measured with an optical tracking system. Synthetic pelves were used. Comminuted transforaminal sacral–rami fractures were modelled. Each pelvis was stabilised by either (1) two iliosacral screws in S1, (2) one transsacral screw in S1 and one iliosacral screw in S1 and (3) one trans-alar screw in S1 and one iliosacral screw in S1; groups 4–6 consisted of fixation groups with addition of anterior inferior iliac pelvic external fixator. Eighteen-instrumented pelvic models with right ilium fixed simulate single-leg stance. Load was applied to centre of S1 superior endplate. Five cycles of torque was initially applied, sequentially increased until permanent deformation occurred. Five cycles of axial load compression was next applied, sequentially increased until permanent deformation occurred, followed by axial loading to catastrophic failure. A Student t test was used to determine significance (p < 0.05).
Results: The model, protocol and 3D optical system have the ability to locate how sub-catastrophic failures initiate. Our results indicate failure of all screw-based constructs is due to localised bone failure (screw pull-in push-out at the ipsilateral ilium–screw interface, not in sacrum); thus, no difference was observed when not supplemented with external fixation.
Conclusion: Inclusion of external fixation improved resistance only to torsional loading. Translational Potential of this Article: Patients with comminuted transforaminal sacral–ipsilateral rami fractures benefit from this fixation.