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Am J Sports Med. 1985 Sep-Oct;13(5):285-94.

Radiographic and histologic analyses of stress fracture in rabbit tibias.


Sequential changes in remodeling of the internal structure of the tibia caused by controlled, excessive jumping and running were studied in 20 rabbits. Vascular changes and circulatory disturbances within the cortical bone occurred before osteoclastic resorption. Degeneration and necrosis of osteocytes due to circulatory disturbances also occurred. Periosteal new bone formation, found at and after 12 days of the experiment, was a compensatory reaction to support the tibia weakened by accelerated osteoclastic resorption. Small cracks appeared at the cement line and developed through the neighboring cement line of the haversian systems. At 21 days, incomplete fracture of the tibial cortex was found in two rabbits. Complete fracture through one side of the cortex was seen in one animal at the 50th day of the experiment. In this study, however, most of the tibias did not have visible fracture lines after a period of stressful exercise. This result suggests that most tibias adapt to changes in stress requirements through proper internal remodeling so that a complete fracture does not occur.

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