Distraction osteogenesis after acute limb-shortening for segmental tibial defects: Comparison of a monofocal and a bifocal technique in rabbits

Rainer H. Meffert, Nozomu Inoue, John E. Tis, Erwin Brug, Edmund Y.S. Chao

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Background: Segmental bone defects can be treated with immediate limb- shortening followed by monofocal or bifocal distraction osteogenesis. In the present study, the efficacy of monofocal distraction osteogenesis was compared with that of bifocal distraction osteogenesis in a rabbit model. Methods: Twenty-four skeletally mature New Zealand White rabbits were divided into two equal groups: one group had monofocal distraction osteosynthesis, and the other had bifocal distraction osteosynthesis. In both groups, a one- centimeter-long segment of bone was resected from the midpart of the tibial shaft. In the monofocal reconstruction group, the limb was immediately shortened to close the segmental defect and the defect was allowed to heal for ten days. Lengthening was then begun at this site, with use of a specially designed external fixator, at a rate of 0.5 millimeter per twelve hours. In the bifocal reconstruction group, the segmental defect was closed immediately and the fragments were fixed with microplates. A subperiosteal osteotomy was performed proximal to the tibiofibular junction, and lengthening was performed at the site of the osteotomy. The animals in both groups were killed twenty days after the lengthening was completed. Newbone formation then was evaluated with use of radiographs, densitometry, biomechanical testing, and histological and histomorphometric analysis. Results: Osseous consolidation occurred in all but one of the animals. Biomechanical testing demonstrated that the tibiae that had been treated with use of the simple monofocal reconstruction technique tended to have greater torsional stiffness (p = 0.14) and strength (p = 0.09). Follow-up radiographs revealed that both groups had a significant decrease in radiolucent area (p < 0.05), which occurred at essentially the same rate after lengthening. No significant differences were found between the groups with respect to new- bone mineral density, new-bone area, or the amount of callus. Thus, after resection of a diaphyseal bone segment comprising 10 percent of the original length of the tibia and acute shortening, limb reconstruction was completed successfully through distraction osteogenesis with use of either a monofocal or a bifocal technique in rabbits. Conclusions: In the present study, both monofocal and bifocal techniques of shortening and distraction osteogenesis were effective for the reconstruction of segmental bone defects. Under some conditions, the monofocal method may provide a simpler means of treating such defects. Clinical Relevance: Damage to the soft-tissue envelope as well as venous and lymphatic stasis impose limits on the amount of limb-shortening that can be achieved with use of the monofocal method and also influence the indications for this procedure in the clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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