A fracture healing monitoring system with external fixators was analysed using the finite element method. Pin displacement and side bar strain under axial and side loading were evaluated at various stages of simulated fracture healing. In general, a recovery of rigidity at the fracture site of up to 25 percent of intact bone could be sensitively predicted. Effects of cross-sectional distribution and length of callus at the fracture site on pin displacement and side bar strain were studied. Alterations of fixation configuration, such as component failure during the healing process, were found to have relatively little effect on pin displacement but a rather larger effect on side bar strain. In general, the assessment of fracture healing by monitoring the deformation of external fixation devices is a useful idea. However, in practice, great care must be taken to fully understand the implication of the monitoring system before drawing conclusions on such measurements.
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