The rat model of femur fracture for bone and mineral research: An improved description of expected comminution, quantity of soft callus and incidence of complications

Bone Joint Res. 2013 Aug 8;2(8):149-54. doi: 10.1302/2046-3758.28.2000171. Print 2013.


Objectives: One commonly used rat fracture model for bone and mineral research is a closed mid-shaft femur fracture as described by Bonnarens in 1984. Initially, this model was believed to create very reproducible fractures. However, there have been frequent reports of comminution and varying rates of complication. Given the importance of precise anticipation of those characteristics in laboratory research, we aimed to precisely estimate the rate of comminution, its importance and its effect on the amount of soft callus created. Furthermore, we aimed to precisely report the rate of complications such as death and infection.

Methods: We tested a rat model of femoral fracture on 84 rats based on Bonnarens' original description. We used a proximal approach with trochanterotomy to insert the pin, a drop tower to create the fracture and a high-resolution fluoroscopic imager to detect the comminution. We weighed the soft callus on day seven and compared the soft callus parameters with the comminution status.

Results: The mean operating time was 34.8 minutes (sd 9.8). The fracture was usable (transverse, mid-shaft, without significant comminution and with displacement < 1 mm) in 74 animals (88%). Of these 74 usable fractures, slight comminution was detected in 47 (63%). In 50 animals who underwent callus manipulation, slight comminution (n = 32) was statistically correlated to the amount of early callus created (r = 0.35, p = 0.015). Two complications occurred: one death and one deep infection.

Conclusions: We propose an accurate description of comminution and complications in order to improve experiments on rat femur fracture model in the field of laboratory research. Cite this article: Bone Joint Res 2013;2:149-54.

Keywords: Blunt guillotine; Closed fracture; Comminution; Rat; Rat fracture model; Soft callus.