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Acta Orthop Scand. 2003 Aug;74(4):476-82.

An external fixation method and device to study fracture healing in rats.

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1
Department of Plastic Surgery, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden. hans.mark@vgregion.se

Abstract

We wished to establish a reproducible model for fracture fixation to be used in fracture healing research and therefore developed an external fixation construct and surgical procedure adapted to Sprague-Dawley rats. We evaluated the mechanical properties of the construct in brass rods and rat bone, in an Instron test machine with axial and transverse loading, and the in vivo performance. We found that the mechanical properties of the construct in brass rods were predictable and could be repeated in rat femora. In all tests, the axial load was about 10 times the transverse for the same degree of deformation. The stiffness among fixators was uniform. 1 mm pins caused about 50% less stiffness than 1.2 mm pins in axial loading of rat bone (p < 0.001) and brass rods (p < 0.001) as well as in transverse loading of brass rods (p < 0.001). Loosening of 1 or 2 screws that lock the pins to the fixator reduced stiffness by about 50% in axial loading of rat bone (p = 0.009) and brass rods (p = 0.05). A change in the distance between the bone surface and the fixator was linearly related to the stiffness in axial loading of rat bone (p < 0.001) and brass rods (p < 0.001) and in transverse loading of brass rods (p < 0.001). If the bone ends touched each other, the axial stiffness of the construct increased almost 10 times (265 N/mm), as compared to a fracture gap size of 2 mm (31 N/mm). In vivo experiments had a complication rate of less than 10% when we used 1.2 mm pins, 6 mm offset and rats weighing 350-450 g. Our method and device for experimental external fixation of rat femora are reliable and the findings are reproducible. These can be used in bone repair and fracture healing research.

PMID:
14521302
DOI:
10.1080/00016470310017820
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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