Date of Thesis

Spring 2012


More than 250,000 hip fractures occur annually in the United States and the most common fracture location is the femoral neck, the weakest region of the femur. Hip fixation surgery is conducted to repair hip fractures by using a Kirschner (K-) wire as a temporary guide for permanent bone screws. Variation has been observed in the force required to extract the K-wire from the femoral head during surgery. It is hypothesized that a relationship exists between the K-wire pullout force and the bone quality at the site of extraction. Currently, bone mineral density (BMD) is used as a predictor for bone quality and strength. However, BMD characterizes the entire skeletal system and does not account for localized bone quality and factors such as lifestyle, nutrition, and drug use. A patient’s BMD may not accurately describe the quality of bone at the site of fracture. This study aims to investigate a correlation between the force required to extract a K-wire from femoral head specimens and the quality of bone. A procedure to measure K-wire pullout force was developed and tested with pig femoral head specimens. The procedure was implemented on 8 human osteoarthritic femoral head specimens and the average pullout force for each ranged from 563.32 ± 240.38 N to 1041.01 ± 346.84 N. The data exhibited significant variation within and between each specimen and no statistically significant relationships were determined between pullout force and patient age, weight, height, BMI, inorganic to organic matter ratio, and BMD. A new testing fixture was designed and manufactured to merge the clinical and research environments by enabling the physician to extract the K-wire from each bone specimen himself. The new device allows the physician to gather tactile feedback on the relative ease of extraction while load history is recorded similar to the previous procedure for data acquisition. Future work will include testing human bones with the new device to further investigate correlations for predicting bone quality.


Bone Quality, Bone Screw, Bone Mineral Density, Kirschner Wire

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Eric A. Kennedy