Background: Carbon-fiber-reinforced poly-ether-ether-ketone (CFR-PEEK) has superior radiolucency compared to other orthopedic implant materials, e.g. titanium or stainless steel, thus allowing metal-artifact-free postoperative monitoring by computed tomography (CT). Recently, high-resolution peripheral quantitative CT (HRpQCT) proved to be a promising technique to monitor the recovery of volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), micro-architecture and biomechanical parameters in stable conservatively treated distal radius fractures. When using HRpQCT to monitor unstable distal radius fractures that require volar distal radius plating for fixation, radiolucent CFR-PEEK plates may be a better alternative to currently used titanium plates to allow for reliable assessment. In this pilot study, we assessed the effect of a volar distal radius plate made from CFR-PEEK on bone parameters obtained from HRpQCT in comparison to two titanium plates.
Methods: Plates were instrumented in separate cadaveric human fore-arms (n = 3). After instrumentation and after removal of the plates duplicate HRpQCT scans were made of the region covered by the plate. HRpQCT images were visually checked for artifacts. vBMD, micro-architectural and biomechanical parameters were calculated, and compared between the uninstrumented and instrumented radii.
Results: No visible image artifacts were observed in the CFR-PEEK plate instrumented radius, and errors in bone parameters ranged from -3.2 to 2.6%. In the radii instrumented with the titanium plates, severe image artifacts were observed and errors in bone parameters ranged between -30.2 and 67.0%.
Conclusions: We recommend using CFR-PEEK plates in longitudinal in vivo studies that monitor the healing process of unstable distal radius fractures treated operatively by plating or bone graft ingrowth.
- Injury/fracture healing
- Distal radius