Compressive Forces Achieved in Simulated Equine Third Metacarpal Bone Lateral Condylar Fractures of Varying Fragment Thickness with Acutrak Plus Screw and 4.5 mm AO Cortical Screws


Corresponding Author: Dr. Andrew J. Lewis, DVM, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. E-mail:


Objectives— To compare compression pressure (CP) of 6.5 mm Acutrak Plus (AP) and 4.5 mm AO cortical screws (AO) when inserted in simulated lateral condylar fractures of equine 3rd metacarpal (MC3) bones.

Study Design— Paired in vitro biomechanical testing.

Sample Population— Cadaveric equine MC3 bones (n=12 pair).

Methods— Complete lateral condylar osteotomies were created parallel to the midsagittal ridge at 20, 12, and 8 mm axial to the epicondylar fossa on different specimens grouped accordingly. Interfragmentary compression was measured using a pressure sensor placed in the fracture plane before screw placement for fracture fixation. CP was acquired and mean values of CP for each fixation method were compared between the 6.5 mm (AP) and 4.5 mm (AO) for each group using a paired t-test within each fracture fragment thickness group with statistical significance set at P<.05.

Results— AO screw configurations generated significantly greater compressive pressure compared with AP configurations. The ratio of mean CP for AP screws to AO screws at 20, 12, and 8 mm, were 21.6%, 26.2%, and 34.2%, respectively.

Conclusion— Mean CP for AP screw fixations are weaker than those for AO screw fixations, most notably with the 20 mm fragments. The 12 and 8 mm groups have comparatively better compression characteristics than the 20 mm group; however, they are still significantly weaker than AO fixations.

Clinical Relevance— Given that the primary goals of surgical repair are to achieve rigid fixation, primary bone healing, and good articular alignment, based on these results, it is recommended that caution should be used when choosing the AP screw for repair of lateral condylar fractures, especially complete fractures. Because interfragmentary compression plays a factor in the overall stability of a repair, it is recommended for use only in patients with thin lateral condyle fracture fragments, as the compression tends to decrease with an increase in thickness.