The addition of cerclage wiring does not improve proximal bicortical fixation of locking plates for Type C periprosthetic fractures in synthetic humeri


      • It is difficult to create robust reconstructions for periprosthetic humeral fractures.
      • Cerclage wiring, screw fixation, and a hybrid method were biomechanically tested.
      • Isolated bicortical screw fixation provided resistance against bending, shear, and torsional motion.
      • Addition of cerclage wiring to bicortical screw fixation offered no biomechanical advantage.



      Treatment of proximal humerus periprosthetic fractures is challenging. It remains difficult to achieve robust fixation of the proximal fragment to the locking plate using cerclage wiring and/or unicortical screws. Use of polyaxial tangentially directed bicortical locking screws increases screw purchase, but it is unclear if this option provides robust fixation. This biomechanical study compares fixation of constructs using cerclage wires, bicortical locking screws, and a hybrid method utilizing both methods.


      Uncemented humeral stems were implanted into synthetic humeri and Type C periprosthetic fractures were simulated with a 1 cm transverse osteotomy. Distal ends of locking plates were secured with bicortical non-locking screws. The proximal ends were supported by either isolated cerclage wires, polyaxial locking screws, or a hybrid combination of both (n = 6 for each group). A universal test frame was used for non-destructive torsion and cyclic axial compression tests. 3-D motion tracking was employed to determine stiffnesses and relative interfragmentary motions.


      Isolated screw constructs showed significantly increased resistance against torsional movement, bending, and shear, (p < 0.05) in comparison to cerclage constructs. The hybrid construct provided no significant changes in stability over the isolated screw construct.


      Addition of cerclage wires in this synthetic bone model of Type C periprosthetic humerus fractures did not add significant stability to proximal bicortical locking plate fixation. Considering risks of tissue stripping and nerve injury, usage of cerclage wires in a similar clinical setting should be chosen carefully, especially when bicortical fixation around the prosthetic stem can be achieved.


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