An acute osteomyelitis model in traumatized rat tibiae involving sand as a foreign body, thermal injury, and bimicrobial contamination

Comp Med. 2008 Aug;58(4):369-74.


The multfactorial nature of bone injuries in modern warfare and emergency trauma patients warrants enhancement of existing models. To develop a more appropriate model, rat tibiae (n = 195) were mechanically injured, divided into 2 groups (with or without thermal injury), and contaminated with a range of Staphylococcus aureus (Cowan 1) inocula. In some experiments, S. aureus inocula also contained Escherichia coli or foreign bodies (sand or soil). The primary outcome measure was the amount of S. aureus remaining in the tibia (tibial bacterial load) 24 h after contamination, reported as log10 cfu/g bone. S. aureus showed ID50 and ID95 values of 72 and 977 cfu, respectively. Values were lower than seen previously by using S. aureus strain SMH. S. aureus tibial bacterial loads were higher in tibiae with mechanical and thermal injury (log10 4.15 +/- 0.27 cfu/g) versus mechanical injury alone (log10 3.1 +/- 0.47 cfu/g, P = 0.028). The addition of E. coli to the S. aureus inoculum had no effect on tibial bacterial loads (S. aureus only, log10 4.24 +/- 0.92 cfu/g; S. aureus + E. coli, log10 4.1 +/- 1.0 cfu/g, P = 0.74). Sand, added as a foreign body, increased tibial bacterial load. Combined mechanical and thermal trauma of the tibia is associated with increased S. aureus tibial bacterial loads, increasing the risk of acute osteomyelitis. Understanding the interplay of mechanical and thermal injuries, bimicrobial contamination, and foreign bodies may improve our understanding of traumatic bone injuries and the pathogenesis of osteomyelitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Escherichia coli
  • Foreign Bodies*
  • Fracture Healing
  • Fractures, Open / complications
  • Fractures, Open / microbiology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis* / microbiology
  • Osteomyelitis* / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Silicon Dioxide*
  • Staphylococcal Infections*
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Tibia* / microbiology
  • Tibia* / pathology
  • Tibial Fractures* / complications
  • Tibial Fractures* / microbiology
  • Wound Infection


  • Silicon Dioxide