An Inexpensive 3D Printed Mouse Model of Successful, Complication-free Long Bone Distraction Osteogenesis

Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2023 Feb 13;11(2):e4674. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000004674. eCollection 2023 Feb.


Distraction osteogenesis (DO) is used for skeletal defects; however, up to 50% of cases exhibit complications. Previous mouse models of long bone DO have been anecdotally hampered by postoperative complications, expense, and availability. To improve clinical techniques, cost-effective, reliable animal models are needed. Our focus was to develop a new mouse tibial distractor, hypothesized to result in successful, complication-free DO.

Methods: A lightweight tibial distractor was developed using CAD and 3D printing. The device was fixed to the tibia of C57Bl/6J mice prior to osteotomy. Postoperatively, mice underwent 5 days latency, 10 days distraction (0.15 mm every 12 hours), and 28 days consolidation. Bone regeneration was examined on postoperative day 43 using micro-computed tomography (μCT) and Movat's modified pentachrome staining on histology (mineralized volume fraction and pixels, respectively). Costs were recorded. We compared cohorts of 11 mice undergoing sham, DO, or acute lengthening (distractor acutely lengthened 3.0 mm).

Results: The histological bone regenerate was significantly increased in DO (1,879,257 ± 155,415 pixels) compared to acute lengthening (32847 ± 1589 pixels) (P < 0.0001). The mineralized volume fraction (bone/total tissue volume) of the regenerate was significantly increased in DO (0.9 ± 0.1) compared to acute lengthening (0.7 ± 0.1) (P < 0.001). There was no significant difference in bone regenerate between DO and sham. The distractor was relatively low cost ($11), with no complications.

Conclusions: Histology and µCT analysis confirmed that the proposed tibial DO model resulted in successful bone formation. Our model is cost-effective and reproducible, enabling implementation in genetically dissectible transgenic mice.