Validation of a finite element model of the Kirschner-Ehmer external skeletal fixation system

Alan R. Cross From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0126 (Cross), the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (Aron, Budsberg), and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (Foutz, Pearman, Evans), University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Dennis N. Aron From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0126 (Cross), the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (Aron, Budsberg), and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (Foutz, Pearman, Evans), University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Steven C. Budsberg From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0126 (Cross), the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (Aron, Budsberg), and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (Foutz, Pearman, Evans), University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Timothy L. Foutz From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0126 (Cross), the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (Aron, Budsberg), and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (Foutz, Pearman, Evans), University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Brent T. Pearman From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0126 (Cross), the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (Aron, Budsberg), and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (Foutz, Pearman, Evans), University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Mark D. Evans From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0126 (Cross), the Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (Aron, Budsberg), and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (Foutz, Pearman, Evans), University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Abstract

Objective

To determine the validity of finite element analysis (FEA) as a means of examining biomechanical properties of the Kirschner-Ehmer external skeletal fixation system.

Sample Population

10 paired tibiae harvested from skeletally mature dogs weighing between 30 and 38 kg immediately following euthanasia for reasons unrelated to musculoskeletal disease.

Procedure

A gap fracture was created in each bone; fragments were stabilized with 3 frame configurations (type I, type II, and type III), using enhanced-profile threaded pins. Each bone-frame construct was tested, using a materials testing machine in 3 modes of testing: axial compression (AC), mediolateral (ML) bending, and craniocaudal (CC) bending, for a total of 9 tests/bone. The elastic limit of the constructs was not exceeded during testing. Mean stiffness values were determined from load-displacement curves. A finite element model of each construct was created, using three-dimensional elastic beam elements, and stiffness values were calculated, using FEA. Correlations between experimental and FEA data then were determined.

Results

Significant differences in stiffness were seen among all 3 constructs in CC bending and AC, with stiffness increasing with construct complexity. No significant difference in ML bending stiffness was seen between type-II and type-III constructs; however, both were significantly stiffer than the type-I constructs. The experimental and FEA stiffness data were strongly correlated (AC, r = 0.994; ML bending, r = 0.998; CC bending, r = 0.985).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Strong correlations among experimental and FEA data indicate that FEA is a valid method of comparing stiffness of Kirschner-Ehmer external skeletal fixation constructs. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:615–620)

Abstract

Objective

To determine the validity of finite element analysis (FEA) as a means of examining biomechanical properties of the Kirschner-Ehmer external skeletal fixation system.

Sample Population

10 paired tibiae harvested from skeletally mature dogs weighing between 30 and 38 kg immediately following euthanasia for reasons unrelated to musculoskeletal disease.

Procedure

A gap fracture was created in each bone; fragments were stabilized with 3 frame configurations (type I, type II, and type III), using enhanced-profile threaded pins. Each bone-frame construct was tested, using a materials testing machine in 3 modes of testing: axial compression (AC), mediolateral (ML) bending, and craniocaudal (CC) bending, for a total of 9 tests/bone. The elastic limit of the constructs was not exceeded during testing. Mean stiffness values were determined from load-displacement curves. A finite element model of each construct was created, using three-dimensional elastic beam elements, and stiffness values were calculated, using FEA. Correlations between experimental and FEA data then were determined.

Results

Significant differences in stiffness were seen among all 3 constructs in CC bending and AC, with stiffness increasing with construct complexity. No significant difference in ML bending stiffness was seen between type-II and type-III constructs; however, both were significantly stiffer than the type-I constructs. The experimental and FEA stiffness data were strongly correlated (AC, r = 0.994; ML bending, r = 0.998; CC bending, r = 0.985).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Strong correlations among experimental and FEA data indicate that FEA is a valid method of comparing stiffness of Kirschner-Ehmer external skeletal fixation constructs. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:615–620)

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