Augmentation of Core Decompression with Synthetic Bone Graft Does Not Improve Mechanical Properties of the Proximal Femur

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Core decompression is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to treat patients with avascular necrosis of the femoral head. The procedure requires an entry hole in the lateral cortex of the femur which potentially leaves patients susceptible to subtrochanteric fractures. The purpose of this study was to determine if filling the core decompression tract with synthetic bone-graft mechanically strengthens the proximal femur. Twenty composite synthetic femurs underwent a core decompression procedure; ten were augmented with synthetic bone-graft (PRO-DENSE™, Wright Medical) and ten femurs were left unfilled as a control group. Compressive testing to failure was performed using a mechanical testing machine. Stiffness, fracture load, and toughness did not significantly differ between groups. More subtrochanteric fractures were seen in the control group (6 of 10 specimens) compared to the bone-graft augmented group (2 of 10 specimens). In conclusion, augmentation of a core decompression tract does not improve mechanical properties in a synthetic bone model but may be protective of subtrochanteric fracture.