Tibio-talo-calcaneal (TTC) arthrodesis is an end-stage treatment for patients with severe degeneration of the ankle joint. This treatment consists of using an intramedullary nail (IM) to fuse the calcaneus, talus, and tibia bones together into one construct. Poor bone quality within the joint prior to surgery is common and thus the procedure has shown complications due to non-union. However, a new FDA-approved IM nail has been released that houses a nickel titanium (NiTi) rod that uses its inherent pseudoelastic material properties to apply active compression across the fusion site. Finite element analysis was performed to model the mechanical response of the NiTi within the device. A bone model was then developed based on a quantitative computed tomography (QCT) image for anatomical geometry and bone material properties. A total bone and device system was modeled to investigate the effect of bone quality change and gather load-sharing properties during gait loading. It was found that during the highest magnitude loading of gait, the load taken by the bone was more than 50% higher than the load taken by the nail. When comparing the load distribution during gait, results from this study would suggest that the device helps to prevent stress shielding by allowing a more even distribution of load between bone and nail. In conditions where bone quality may vary patient-to-patient, the model indicates that a 10% decrease in overall bone modulus (i.e. material stiffness) due to reduced bone mineral density would result in higher stresses in the nail (3.4%) and a marginal decrease in stress for the bone (0.5%). The finite element model presented in this study can be used as a quantitative tool to further understand the stress environment of both bone and device for a TTC fusion. Furthermore, the methodology presented gives insight on how to computationally program and use the unique material properties of NiTi in an active compression state useful for bone fracture healing or fusion treatments.
Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2016
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