October 18th, 2018 , The Journal of Hand Surgery

Biomechanical Properties of Nitinol Staples: Effects of Troughing, Effective Leg Length, and 2-Staple Constructs (Abstract)

Authors: Mcknight RR, Lee SK, Gaston RG


Nitinol memory compression staples are a recent addition to carpal bone fixation. Compared with traditional staples, they have been shown to have superior compression at the far cortex relative to standard and traditional compression staples. The purpose of this study was to (1) determine the effective leg length of different nitinol staples, (2) confirm the effect of 1 versus 2 staples on biomechanicalcompression, and (3) determine the effect of troughing (countersinking the staple into bone) the bone on staple biomechanical properties.


Three commonly used nitinol staples of various bridge and leg lengths were used in a bicortical sawbones block construct. There were 3 separate constructs tested, which included single staple, double staple, and troughed. We measured compression force, stiffness, and bending strength for each construct before and after cyclical 4-point bending. Compression mapping was used to determine the effective leglength of each staple, which included the distance that compression extended beyond the tips of the staple legs.


Effective leg length for each staple construct extended 2 mm distal to the tip of the shortest staple leg. Two staple constructs more than doubled compressive force and increased bending strength by greater than 90% in all staple types. There was no loss of compressive force before or after loading for single, double, or troughed constructs with any staple type.


This study supports that nitinol staples do not have to be placed bicortically to achieve adequate compression; placing staples 2 mm short of the far cortex has the same compression as bicortical placement; and troughing of the bone will not significantly diminish the biomechanical properties of the construct.


Better understanding of the effective leg length of nitinol staples provides support that bicortical placement is not necessary for adequate compression. This study supports troughing bone to minimize implant prominence.

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