Horizontal fractures of the medial malleolus occur through application of valgus or abduction force through the ankle that creates a tension failure of the medial malleolus. The authors hypothesize that mini-fragment T-plates may offer improved fixation, but the optimal fixation construct for these fractures remains unclear. Forty synthetic distal tibiae with identical osteotomies were randomized into 4 fixation constructs: (1) two parallel unicortical cancellous screws; (2) two parallel bicortical cortical screws; (3) a contoured mini-fragment T-plate with 2 unicortical screws in the fragment and 2 bicortical screws in the shaft; and (4) a contoured mini-fragment T-plate with 2 bicortical screws in the fragment and 2 unicortical screws in the shaft. Specimens were subjected to offset axial tension loading on a servohydraulic testing system and tracked using high-resolution video. Failure was defined as 2 mm of articular displacement. Analysis of variance followed by a Tukey- Kramer post hoc test was used to assess for differences between groups, with significance defined as P<.05. The mean stiffness (±SD) values of both minifragment T-plate constructs (239±83 N/mm and 190±37 N/mm) and the bicortical screw construct (240±17 N/mm) were not statistically different. The mean stiffness values of both mini-fragment T-plate constructs and the bicortical screw construct were higher than that of a parallel unicortical screw construct (102±20 N/mm). Contoured T-plate constructs provide stiffer initial fixation than a unicortical cancellous screw construct. The T-plate is biomechanically equivalent to a bicortical screw construct, but may be superior in capturing small fragments of bone.
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