Objective— To describe the morphology of calcified tissues involved in distraction osteogenesis (DO) by means of backscattered scanning electron microscopy (BS-SEM).

Study Design— Experimental study.

Animals— Adult female Beagle dogs (n=12).

Methods— Nonsimultaneous and bilateral transverse mid-diaphyseal osteotomies performed in tibiae were stabilized and distracted by a Type Ia external skeletal fixation device. After a latency period of 5 days, distraction was applied at a rate of 0.5 mm every 12 hours for 10 days. Then, the external fixator was maintained in a static mode during the consolidation period until bone healing or euthanasia at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 18 weeks after operations, whichever came first. Distracted regions were isolated and their structure was examined by BS-SEM.

Results— Calcified chondroid tissue was prominent during distraction and calcified cartilaginous tissue during consolidation; both tissues were successively replaced by woven, lamellar, and osteonal bone.

Conclusions— In osteotomized tibia, chondroid tissue is the main component of the mineralization front during distraction, calcified cartilaginous tissue during consolidation, and then both tissues are replaced by woven, lamellar, and osteonal bone. The ossification mechanism of distraction callus is transchondroidal.

Clinical Relevance— BS-SEM is an effective technique for studying progression of bone healing during DO. The presence of chondroid tissue during DO explains why callus mineralization occurs more rapidly during distraction than during static stabilization.