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Objective— To compare the structural properties of interlocking nails (ILNs) locked with bolts (ILNb) to ILN locked with extended bolts connected with a type-IA external skeletal fixator (ILN–ESF) in a fracture gap model.

Study Design— Experimental study.

Sample Population— Synthetic tibial bone substitutes.

Methods— Custom-made synthetic tibial bone substitutes were implanted with standard ILNs locked with either bolts or extended bolts connected to an external skeletal fixation (ESF). Constructs were tested in torsion, bending, and axial compression (n=4/testing mode). Data, consisting of construct compliance and associated deformation, were compared using t-tests.

Results— The ILN–ESF construct compliance and deformation were significantly less than those of the ILNb construct in torsion, bending, and compression (P<.001). Slack was present in the ILNb construct under torsion and bending, but not in the ILN–ESF construct, regardless of testing mode.

Conclusions— Substitution of locking bolts with extended bolts connected to an ESF significantly reduced the construct compliance and overall deformation in torsion, bending, and compression. Furthermore, the inherent slack of the ILNb was eliminated by the use of an ESF in torsion and bending.

Clinical Relevance— The improvement in structural properties of the ILN–ESF constructs could diminish interfragmentary motion at the fracture site and potentially improve bone healing.