Rat tibial osteotomy model providing a range of normal to impaired healing


  • This article was published online on 13 July 2010. Subsequently, the third author's name was found to be incorrect, and the correction was published on 31 August 2010.


The purpose of this study was to develop an inexpensive and easily implemented rat tibial osteotomy model capable of producing a range of healing outcomes. A saw blade was used to create a transverse osteotomy of the tibia in 89 Sprague–Dawley rats. A 0.89 mm diameter stainless steel wire was then inserted as an intramedullary nail to stabilize the fracture. To impair healing, 1, 2, or 3 mm cylindrical polyetheretherketone (PEEK) spacer beads were threaded onto the wires, between the bone ends. Fracture healing was evaluated radiographically, biomechanically, and histologically at 5 weeks. Means were compared for statistical differences by one-way ANOVA and Holm–Sidak multiple comparison testing. The mean number of “cortices bridged” for the no spacer group was 3.4 (SD ± 0.8), which was significantly greater than in the 1 mm (2.3 ± 1.4), 2 mm (0.8 ± 0.7), and 3 mm (0.3 ± 0.4) groups (p < 0.003). Biomechanical results correlated with radiographic findings, with an ultimate torque of 172 ± 53, 137 ± 41, 90 ± 38, and 24 ± 23 N/mm with a 0, 1, 2, or 3 mm defect, respectively. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that this inexpensive, technically straightforward model can be used to create a range of outcomes from normal healing to impaired healing, to nonunions. This model may be useful for testing new therapeutic strategies to promote fracture healing, materials thought to be able to heal critical-sized defects, or evaluating agents suspected of impairing healing. © 2010 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 29:109–115, 2011.