Intramedullary implant stability affects patterns of fracture healing in mice with morphologically different bone phenotypes

Vaida Glatt, Nicole Bartnikowski, Michal Bartnikowski, Leonardo Aguilar, Michael Schuetz, Kevin Tetsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Almost all prior mouse fracture healing models have used needles or K-wires for fixation, unwittingly providing inadequate mechanical stability during the healing process. Our contention is that the reported outcomes have predominantly reflected this instability, rather than the impact of diverse biological conditions, pharmacologic interventions, exogenous growth factors, or genetic considerations. This important issue becomes obvious upon a critical review of the literature. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to demonstrate the significance of mouse-specific implants designed to provide both axial and torsional stability (Screw and IM Nail) compared to conventional pins (Needle and K-wires), even when used in mice with differently sized marrow canals and diverse genetic backgrounds. B6 (large medullary canal), DBA, and C3H (smaller medullary canals) mice were employed, all of which have different bone morphologies. Closed femoral fractures were created and stabilized with intramedullary implants that provide different mechanical conditions during the healing process. The most important finding of this study was that appropriately designed mouse-specific implants, providing both axial and torsional stability, had the greatest influence on bone healing outcomes regardless of the different bone morphologies encountered. For instance, unstable implants in the B6 strain (largest medullary canal) resulted in significantly greater callus, with a fracture region mainly comprising trabecular bone along with the presence of cartilage 28 days after surgery. The DBA and C3H strains (with smaller medullary canals) instead formed significantly less callus, and only had a small amount of intracortical trabeculation remaining. Moreover, with more stable fracture fixation a higher BV/TV was observed and cortices were largely restored to their original dimensions and structure, indicating an accelerated healing and remodeling process. These observations reveal that the diaphyseal cortical thickness, influenced by the genetic background of each strain, played a pivotal role in determining the amount of bone formation in response to the fracture. These findings are highly important, indicating the rate and type of tissue formed is a direct result of mechanical instability, and this most likely would mask the true contribution of the tested genes, genetic backgrounds, or various therapeutic agents administered during the bone healing process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116978
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Fixation stability
  • Fracture healing
  • Genetic background
  • Intramedullary implants
  • Mechanical conditions
  • Mouse models
  • Preclinical models
  • Strain of mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology


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