High-energy orthopedic injuries cause severe damage to soft tissues and are prone to infection and healing complications, making them a challenge to manage. Further research is facilitated by a clinically relevant animal model with commensurate fracture severity and soft-tissue damage, allowing evaluation of novel treatment options and techniques.
Here we report a reproducible, robust, and clinically relevant animal model of high-energy trauma with extensive soft-tissue damage, based on compressed air-driven membrane rupture as the blast wave source. As proof-of-principle showing the reproducibility of the injury, we evaluate changes in tissue and bone perfusion for a range of different tibia fracture severities, using dynamic contrast-enhanced fluorescence imaging and microcomputed tomography. We demonstrate that fluorescence tracer temporal profiles for skin, femoral vein, fractured bone, and paw reflect the increasing impact of more powerful blasts causing a range of Gustilo grade I-III injuries.
The maximum fluorescence intensity of distal tibial bone following 0.1 mg/kg intravenous indocyanine green injection decreased by 35% (p < 0.01), 75% (p < 0.001), and 87% (p < 0.001), following grade I, II, and III injuries, respectively, compared to uninjured bone. Other kinetic parameters of bone and soft tissue perfusion extracted from series of fluorescence images for each animal also showed an association with severity of trauma. In addition, the time-intensity profile of fluorescence showed marked differences in wash-in and wash-out patterns for different injury severities and anatomical locations.
This reliable and realistic high-energy trauma model opens new research avenues to better understand infection and treatment strategies. Level of evidence: Level III; Case-control.