Techniques to avoid pin loosening and infection in external fixation

Antonio Moroni, Francesca Vannini, Massimiliano Mosca, Sandro Giannini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this manuscript is to review techniques of optimizing the interface between the bone and pin in external fixation to minimize pin loosening and infection. Conclusions: Among the different techniques to improve the bone-pin interface in external fixation, coating the pins with hydroxyapatite proved to be the most effective. In a highly loaded animal study, three pin types were compared. Type A remained uncoated, type B was coated with hydroxyapatite, and Type C was coated with titanium. Radiographic rarefaction of the bone pin tract was lower in type B pins. Extraction torque was thirteen times higher in type B pins compared to type A and two times higher compared to type C pins. Extraction torque was significantly lower compared to the corresponding insertion torque in both types A and C. In contrast, in the hydroxyapatite coated pins there was no difference between extraction and insertion torque. At sixty times magnification, bone pin contact of type B and C pins was significantly higher than type A. At 10,000 times magnification direct bone pin contact was found only in type B pins. In a clinical study the pin insertion and extraction torque forces were measured in a study of seventy-six external fixation pins in nineteen patients treated with hemicallotasis for osteoarthritis of the medial side of the knee. The patients were randomized to be treated with either standard tapered pins or tapered pins coated with hydroxyapatite. Extraction torque of the hydroxyapatite coated pins was higher than the standard ones in both cancellous and cortical bone. These studies show that in hydroxyapatite coated pins there is no deterioration of the bone-pin interface strength and there is optimal bone-pin contact. Among the various pin types coated with hydroxyapatite, the best results were obtained with the tapered pins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-195
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Trauma
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Bone-pin interface strength
  • External fixation pins
  • Hydroxyapatite coating
  • Pin loosening and infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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