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J Orthop Res. 2003 Sep;21(5):843-9.

A reliable externally fixated murine femoral fracture model that accounts for variation in movement between animals.

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  • 1Trauma Research Group, Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, Queen's University Belfast, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast, BT9 7JB, Northern Ireland, UK.


Fifty-two CFLP mice had an open femoral diaphyseal osteotomy held in compression by a four-pin external fixator. The movement of 34 of the mice in their cages was quantified before and after operation, until sacrifice at 4, 8, 16 or 24 days. Thirty-three specimens underwent histomorphometric analysis and 19 specimens underwent torsional stiffness measurement. The expected combination of intramembranous and endochondral bone formation was observed, and the model was shown to be reliable in that variation in the histological parameters of healing was small between animals at the same time point, compared to the variation between time-points. There was surprisingly large individual variation in the amount of animal movement about the cage, which correlated with both histomorphometric and mechanical measures of healing. Animals that moved more had larger external calluses containing more cartilage and demonstrated lower torsional stiffness at the same time point. Assuming that movement of the whole animal predicts, at least to some extent, movement at the fracture site, this correlation is what would be expected in a model that involves similar processes to those in human fracture healing. Models such as this, employed to determine the effect of experimental interventions, will yield more information if the natural variation in animal motion is measured and included in the analysis.

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