• fracture healing;
  • blunt chest trauma;
  • systemic inflammation;
  • IL-6


In poly-traumatic patients a blunt chest trauma is an important trigger of the posttraumatic systemic inflammatory response. There is clinical evidence that fracture healing is delayed in such patients, however, experimental data are lacking. Therefore, we investigated the influence of a thoracic trauma on fracture healing in a rat model. Male Wistar rats received either a blunt chest trauma combined with a femur osteotomy or an isolated osteotomy. A more rigid or a more flexible external fixator was used for fracture stabilization to analyze whether the thoracic trauma influences regular healing and mechanically induced delayed bone healing differently. The blunt chest trauma induced a significant increase of IL-6 serum levels after 6 and 24 h, suggesting the induction of a systemic inflammation, whereas the isolated fracture had no effect. Under a more rigid fixation the thoracic trauma considerably impaired fracture healing after 35 days, reflected by a significantly reduced flexural rigidity (three-point-bending test), as well as a significantly diminished callus volume, moment of inertia, and relative bone surface (µCT analysis). In confirming the clinical evidence, this study reports for the first time that a blunt chest trauma considerably impaired bone healing, possibly via the interaction of the induced systemic inflammation with local inflammatory processes. © 2010 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 29:734–739, 2011