Articular contact vs. embedding: Effect of simplified boundary conditions on the stress distribution in the distal radius and volar plate implant loading

Laurenz Berger, Dieter Pahr, Alexander Synek

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

Abstract

Boundary conditions (BCs) are often simplified in experimental and numerical models simulating distal radius fractures and their treatments. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of simplified BCs at the radiocarpal joint: (1) on the stress distribution in the intact distal radius, and (2) on the loading of a volar locking plate (VLP) used for distal radius fracture treatment. Finite element models of the distal radius with contact between carpals and cartilage were created as reference models for an intact bone and a fractured bone with VLP treatment. Four models with simplified BCs were compared to these reference models: One with embedding material instead of carpals, one with carpals tied to the radius; each loaded either uniaxially or with statically equivalent loading to the reference model. Differences in distal bone stress distributions and mechanical parameters of the VLP (fracture gap movement, plate peak stresses, distal screw loads) were generally largest for the uniaxially loaded, embedded model (up to 250 % in individual screw loads) and smallest for the model with tied carpals and statically equivalent loads (<25 % for all parameters). Differences were greatly reduced if statically equivalent loads were applied, but subchondral stress peaks were absent without carpals. In conclusion, implementing realistic resultant forces and moments is more important than the exact articular load distribution, but carpal bones should be included if subchondral bone stresses are analyzed. In this case, a tie constraint may replace articular contact modelling with acceptable accuracy if statically equivalent loading is applied.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111279
Pages (from-to)111279
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Volume143
Early online date29 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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