The seizing of locking screws is a frequently encountered clinical problem during implant removal of locking compression plates (LCP) after completion of fracture healing. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of two different locking mechanisms on the seizing of locking screws. Specifically, the removal torques before and after cyclic dynamic loading were assessed for screws inserted at the manufacturer-recommended torque or at an increased insertion torque. The seizing of 3.5-mm angular stable screws was assessed as a function of insertion torque for two different locking mechanisms (Thread & Conus and Thread Only). Locking screws (n=10 for each configuration) were inserted either according to the manufacturer-recommended torque or at an increased torque of 150% to simulate an over-insertion of the screw. Half of the screws were removed directly after insertion and the remaining half was removed after a dynamic load protocol of 100,000 cycles. The removal torques of locking screws exceeded the insertion torques for all tested conditions confirming the adequacy of the test setup in mimicking screw seizing in locked plating. Screw seizing was more pronounced for Thread Only design (+37%) compared to Thread & Conus design (+14%; P<0.0001). Cyclic loading of the locking construct consistently resulted in an increased seizing of the locking screws (P<0.0001). Clinical observations from patients treated with the Thread & Conus locking design confirm the biomechanical findings of reduction in seizing effect by using a Thread & Conus design. In conclusion, both over-tightening and cyclic loading are potential causes for screw seizing in locking plate implants. Both effects were found to be less pronounced in the Thread & Conus design as compared to the traditional Thread Only design.
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