Torsional properties of distal femoral cortical defects

Derek F. Amanatullah, Joel C. Williams, David P Fyhrie, Robert M. Tamurian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The optimal management of pathologic long bone lesions remains a challenge in orthopedic surgery. The goal of the current study was to investigate the effect of defect depth on the torsional properties of the distal femur. A laterally placed distal metaphyseal cylindrical defect was milled in the cortex of the distal femur in 20 composite models. The proximal extent of the defects was constant. By decreasing the radius of the cylinder that intersected this predefined cord, 4 different radii defining 4 different depths of resection of the distal femur were created for testing: 17%, 33%, 50%, and 67% cortical defects, when normalized to the width of the femur at the level of resection. Each femur was mounted into a hydraulic axial/torsion materials testing machine and each specimen underwent torsional stiffness testing and torsional failure in external rotation. The specimens with less than a 33% cortical loss consistently demonstrated a superiorly oriented spiral fracture pattern, while the specimens with greater than a 50% cortical loss consistently demonstrated an inferiorly oriented transverse fracture pattern. The cortical defects were all statistically (P<.05) less stiff in torsion as the defect grew larger. There was a strong linear correlation between the mean torsional stiffness and cortical defect size (r2=0.977). This observation is supported by finite element analysis. The amount of femur remaining is crucial to stability. This biomechanical analysis predicts a critical loss of torsional integrity when a cortical defect approaches 50% of the width of the femur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-162
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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