A standardized experimental fracture in the mouse tibia



The increased use of transgenic mice as experimental animals provides new opportunities to study the biology of fracture repair. We have developed a technique for the production of a standard closed experimental fracture in the mouse tibia. A 0.2 mm stainless-steel rod was introduced into the medullary cavity and the pre-nailed tibial shaft was fractured by an impact device, which resulted in a reproducible transverse or slightly oblique fracture pattern. The intramedullary rod maintained axial alignment, and the fractures united without displacement. On the basis of measurements of callus geometry, four-point bending tests, biochemical analyses, and quantitative histology, the progress of callus formation and remodeling occurred in a predictable sequence of healing phases. The ultimate bending loads of the fractures increased with time, reaching 74% of the strength of intact control tibias in 4 weeks. The stiffness values of the fractures returned to normal levels and, as determined radiographically, the fractures united by external callus in 4 weeks. Radiographically, callus size, cross-sectional callus area, and callus mass peaked at 2 weeks and decreased thereafter, indicating the start of external remodeling. Histologically, the amount of mesenchymal tissue was maximal at days 5 and 7. The callus cartilage area peaked at day 9; at its maximum, it accounted for 46% of the total callus area. Early periosteal formation of membranous new bone, followed by endochondral ossification, resulted in a linear increase of callus bone during the healing process. The healing sequence of the mouse tibial fracture was similar to that seen in the rat tibia. The major difference is the small size of the mouse, which makes the surgical technique and anesthetic procedures more demanding.