Yielding of the clamped-wire system in the Ilizarov external fixator

MA Watson, KH Mathias, N Maffulli, David Hukins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


This study demonstrates that the clamped-wire system used to suspend bones within an Ilizarov external fixator yields when the perpendicular load exceeds 50 N per wire. Cyclic loading was applied to tensioned wires clamped within an Ilizarov ring component, with steadily increasing load amplitude. Wires were tested at four initial tension settings. The amount of energy lost within the clamped-wire system per load cycle was calculated for every test. The results showed that there was a consistent trend to increasing non-recoverable energy loss per load cycle when peak loads exceed 50 N for all initial tension settings. A finite element (FE) model replicating the experimental conditions was performed to investigate the levels of stress within the loaded wires. The FE model analyses showed that high stresses were generated in the wires close to the clamping sites, and that the stress levels could reasonably be expected to exceed the material yield stress when loaded to about 55 N, for all initial tension settings. The results show that material yield, accompanied by some wire slippage through the clamps, is responsible for system yield, in agreement with previous studies. Although the initial wire tension has an appreciable effect on the wire stiffness, it did not affect the elastic load range of the clamped-wire system. To prevent yield of the clamped-wire system in practice, the fixator should be assembled with sufficient wires to ensure that the load transmitted to each wire by the patient does not exceed 50 N.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-374
Number of pages8
JournalEngineering in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2003


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