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Muscle recovery after immobilisation by external fixation

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We immobilised the right hindlimbs of six-month-old female Wistar rats for four weeks using a biplanar external fixation bridging the knee. The untreated left limbs served as a control group. An additional group of rats was allowed to recover for four weeks after removal of the frame.

Immobilisation caused reduction in the wet weights of approximately 50% in the gastrocnemius, quadriceps, soleus and plantaris muscles; this was not restored completely after remobilisation. There was an increase in the activity of acid phosphatase of approximately 85% in the gastrocnemius and quadriceps muscles whereas that of creatine phosphokinase was reduced by about 40%. These values returned to nearly normal after remobilisation. Histological and ultrastructural examination showed a marked myopathy of the gastrocnemius muscle after immobilisation although the morphology was largely restored after remobilisation.

We conclude that after four weeks of remobilisation, hind-limb muscles do not return to preimmobilisation weights, although biochemical activities and ultrastructural appearance are largely restored.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr A. Z. Reznick.

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