The development of a rat model to investigate the formation of blast-related post-traumatic heterotopic ossification

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Currently, there is no animal model in which to evaluate the underlying physiological processes leading to the heterotopic ossification (HO) which forms in most combat-related and blast wounds. We sought to reproduce the ossification that forms under these circumstances in a rat by emulating patterns of injury seen in patients with severe injuries resulting from blasts. We investigated whether exposure to blast overpressure increased the prevalence of HO after transfemoral amputation performed within the zone of injury. We exposed rats to a blast overpressure alone (BOP-CTL), crush injury and femoral fracture followed by amputation through the zone of injury (AMP-CTL) or a combination of these (BOP-AMP). The presence of HO was evaluated using radiographs, micro-CT and histology. HO developed in none of nine BOP-CTL, six of nine AMP-CTL, and in all 20 BOP-AMP rats. Exposure to blast overpressure increased the prevalence of HO.

This model may thus be used to elucidate cellular and molecular pathways of HO, the effect of varying intensities of blast overpressure, and to evaluate new means of prophylaxis and treatment of heterotopic ossification.

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