Characterization of a reproducible model of fracture healing in mice using an open femoral osteotomy

Bone Rep. 2020 Feb 5:12:100250. doi: 10.1016/j.bonr.2020.100250. eCollection 2020 Jun.


Purpose: The classic fracture model, described by Bonnarens and Einhorn in 1984, enlists a blunt guillotine to generate a closed fracture in a pre-stabilized rodent femur. However, in less experienced hands, this technique yields considerable variability in fracture pattern and requires highly-specialized equipment. This study describes a reproducible and low-cost model of mouse fracture healing using an open femoral osteotomy.

Methods: Femur fractures were produced in skeletally mature male and female mice using an open femoral osteotomy after intramedullary stabilization. Mice were recovered for up to 28 days prior to analysis with microradiographs, histomorphometry, a novel μCT methodology, and biomechanical torsion testing at weekly intervals.

Results: Eight mice were excluded due to complications (8/193, 4.1%), including unacceptable fracture pattern (2/193, 1.0%). Microradiographs showed progression of the fracture site to mineralized callus by 14 days and remodelling 28 days after surgery. Histomorphometry from 14 to 28 days revealed decreased cartilage area and maintained bone area. μCT analysis demonstrated a reduction in mineral surface from 14 to 28 days, stable mineral volume, decreased strut number, and increased strut thickness. Torsion testing at 21 days showed that fractured femurs had 61% of the ultimate torque, 63% of the stiffness, and similar twist to failure when compared to unfractured contralateral femurs.

Conclusions: The fracture model described herein, an open femoral osteotomy, demonstrated healing comparable to that reported using closed techniques. This simple model could be used in future research with improved reliability and reduced costs compared to the current options.

Keywords: Bone repair; Fracture healing; Micro-CT fracture analysis; Mouse fracture model; Osteotomy.