A Computational/Experimental Platform for Investigating Three- Dimensional Puzzle Solving of Comminuted Articular Fractures
Marsh, J. Lawrence
Reconstructing highly comminuted articular fractures poses a difficult surgical challenge, akin to solving a complicated three-dimensional (3D) puzzle. Pre-operative planning using CT is critically important, given the desirability of less invasive surgical approaches. The goal of this work is to advance 3D puzzle solving methods toward use as a pre-operative tool for reconstructing these complex fractures. Methodology for generating typical fragmentation/dispersal patterns was developed. Five identical replicas of human distal tibia anatomy, were machined from blocks of high-density polyetherurethane foam (bone fragmentation surrogate), and were fractured using an instrumented drop tower. Pre- and post-fracture geometries were obtained using laser scans and CT. A semi-automatic virtual reconstruction computer program aligned fragment native (nonfracture) surfaces to a pre-fracture template. The tibias were precisely reconstructed with alignment accuracies ranging from 0.03-0.4mm. This novel technology has potential to significantly enhance surgical techniques for reconstructing comminuted intra-articular fractures, as illustrated for a representative clinical case.