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Organ-level histological and biomechanical responses from localized osteoarticular injury in the rabbit knee.

Vaseenon T, Tochigi Y, Heiner AD, Goetz JE, Baer TE, Fredericks DC, Martin JA, Rudert MJ, Hillis SL, Brown TD, McKinley TO. Organ-level histological and biomechanical responses from localized osteoarticular injury in the rabbit knee. Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society. 2011 Mar 1; 29(3):340-6.

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The processes of whole-joint osteoarthritis development following localized joint injuries are not well understood. To demonstrate this local-to-global linkage, we hypothesized that a localized osteoarticular injury in the rabbit knee would not only cause biomechanical and histological abnormalities in the involved compartment but also concurrent histological changes in the noninvolved compartment. Twenty rabbits had an acute osteoarticular injury that involved localized joint incongruity (a 2-mm osteochondral defect created in the weight-bearing area of the medial femoral condyle), while another 20 received control sham surgery. At the time of euthanasia at 8 or 16 weeks post-surgery, the experimental knees were subjected to sagittal-plane laxity measurement, followed by cartilage histo-morphological evaluation using the Mankin score. The immediate effects of defect creation on joint stability and contact mechanics were explored in concomitant rabbit cadaver experimentation. The injured animals had cartilage histological scores significantly higher than in the sham surgery group (p < 0.01) on the medial femoral, medial tibial, and lateral femoral surfaces (predominantly on the medial surfaces), accompanied by slight (mean 20%) increase of sagittal-plane laxity. Immediate injury-associated alterations in the medial compartment contact mechanics were also demonstrated. Localized osteoarticular injury in this survival animal model resulted in global joint histological changes.

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