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The role of the sensory nerve response in ultrasound accelerated fracture repair

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This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the sensory innervation of bone might play an important role in sensing and responding to low-intensity pulsed ultrasound and explain its effect in promoting fracture healing. In 112 rats a standardised mid-shaft tibial fracture was created, supported with an intramedullary needle and divided into four groups of 28. These either had a sciatic neurectomy or a patellar tendon resection as control, and received the ultrasound or not as a sham treatment. Fracture union, callus mineralisation and remodelling were assessed using plain radiography, peripheral quantitative computed tomography and histomorphology.

Daily ultrasound treatment significantly increased the rate of union and the volumetric bone mineral density in the fracture callus in the neurally intact rats (p = 0.025), but this stimulating effect was absent in the rats with sciatic neurectomy. Histomorphology demonstrated faster maturation of the callus in the group treated with ultrasound when compared with the control group. The results supported the hypothesis that intact innervation plays an important role in allowing low-intensity pulsed ultrasound to promote fracture healing.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr Med X. Guo; e-mail:

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