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Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2012 Dec;11(4):254-63. doi: 10.1177/1534734612465623.

The development of an experimental model of contaminated muscle injury in rabbits.

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  • 1Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK.


Extent of tissue trauma and contamination determine outcome in extremity injury. In contrast to fracture, osteomyelitis, and closed muscle injury studies, there are limited small animal models of extremity muscle trauma and contamination. To address this we developed a model of contaminated muscle injury in rabbits. Twenty-eight anesthetized New Zealand White rabbits underwent open controlled injury of the flexor carpi ulnaris (FCU). Twenty-two animals had subsequent contamination of the injured muscle with Staphylococcus aureus. All animals were sacrificed at 48 hours and the level of muscle injury and contamination determined by quantitative histological and microbiological analysis. A 1-kg mass dropped 300 mm onto the mobilized FCU resulted in localized necrosis of the muscle belly. Delivery of a mean challenge of 3.71 × 10(6) cfu/100 µL S aureus by droplet spread onto the injured muscle produced a muscle contamination of 8.79 × 10(6) cfu/g at 48 hours. Ipsilateral axillary lymph nodes demonstrated clinically significant activation. All animals had normal body temperature and hematological parameters throughout and blood and urinalysis culture at autopsy were negative for organisms. This model allows reproducible muscle injury and contamination with the organism ubiquitous to extremity wound infection at a level sufficient to allow quantitative assessment of subsequent wound care interventions without incurring systemic involvement.

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