Mechanical strength assessment of a drilled hole in the contralateral cortex at the end of the open wedge for high tibial osteotomy

Arnaud Diffo Kaze*, Stefan Maas, Alexander Hoffmann, Dietrich Pape

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: This study aimed to investigate, by means of finite element analysis, the effect of a drill hole at the end of a horizontal osteotomy to reduce the risk of lateral cortex fracture while performing an opening wedge high tibial osteotomy (OWHTO). The question was whether drilling a hole relieves stress and increases the maximum correction angle without fracture of the lateral cortex depending on the ductility of the cortical bone. Methods: Two different types of osteotomy cuts were considered; one with a drill hole (diameter 5 mm) and the other without the hole. The drill holes were located about 20 mm distally to the tibial plateau and 6 mm medially to the lateral cortex, such that the minimal thickness of the contralateral cortical bone was 5 mm. Based on finite element calculations, two approaches were used to compare the two types of osteotomy cuts considered: (1) Assessing the static strength using local stresses following the idea of the FKM-guideline, subsequently referred to as the “FKM approach” and (2) limiting the total strain during the opening of the osteotomy wedge, subsequently referred to as “strain approach”. A critical opening angle leading to crack initiation in the opposite lateral cortex was determined for each approach and was defined as comparative parameter. The relation to bone aging was investigated by considering the material parameters of cortical bones from young and old subjects. Results: The maximum equivalent (von-Mises) stress was smaller for the cases with a drill hole at the end of the osteotomy cut. The critical angle was approximately 1.5 times higher for the specimens with a drill hole compared to those without. This corresponds to an average increase of 50%. The calculated critical angle for all approaches is below 5°. The critical angle depends on the used approach, on patient’s age and assumed ductility of the cortical bone. Conclusions: Drilling a hole at the end of the osteotomy reduces the stresses in the lateral cortex and increases the critical opening angle prior to cracking of the opposite cortex in specimen with small correction angles. But the difference from having a drill hole or not is not so significant, especially for older patients. The ductility of the cortical bone is the decisive parameter for the critical opening angle.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number23
    JournalJournal of Experimental Orthopaedics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


    • Biomechanics
    • Correction angle
    • Drill hole
    • Elongation at break
    • Finite element analysis
    • High tibial osteotomy (HTO)
    • Opposite cortical fracture
    • Osteoarthritis (OA)
    • Static strength


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