Adjustable stiffness, external fixator for the rat femur osteotomy and segmental bone defect models

Vaida Galtt, Romano Mattys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The mechanical environment around the healing of broken bone is very important as it determines the way the fracture will heal. Over the past decade there has been great clinical interest in improving bone healing by altering the mechanical environment through the fixation stability around the lesion. One constraint of preclinical animal research in this area is the lack of experimental control over the local mechanical environment within a large segmental defect as well as osteotomies as they heal. In this paper we report on the design and use of an external fixator to study the healing of large segmental bone defects or osteotomies. This device not only allows for controlled axial stiffness on the bone lesion as it heals, but it also enables the change of stiffness during the healing process in vivo. The conducted experiments have shown that the fixators were able to maintain a 5 mm femoral defect gap in rats in vivo during unrestricted cage activity for at least 8 weeks. Likewise, we observed no distortion or infections, including pin infections during the entire healing period. These results demonstrate that our newly developed external fixator was able to achieve reproducible and standardized stabilization, and the alteration of the mechanical environment of in vivo rat large bone defects and various size osteotomies. This confirms that the external fixation device is well suited for preclinical research investigations using a rat model in the field of bone regeneration and repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere51558
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number92
StatePublished - Oct 9 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone healing
  • External fixator
  • Issue 92
  • Large bone defect and osteotomy model
  • Mechanical enviroment
  • Mechanobiology
  • Medicine
  • Rat model
  • Small animal model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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