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Representative Results






Using a Knee Arthrometer to Evaluate Tissue-specific Contributions to Knee Flexion Contracture in the Rat

Published: November 9th, 2018



1Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital, 2The Bone and Joint Research Laboratory, University of Ottawa, 3Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 4The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, 5Department of Biology, University of Ottawa

The goal of the protocol is to measure the extension range of motion of the rat knee. The effects of various diseases that increase the stiffness of the knee joint and the effectiveness of treatments can be quantified.

Normal knee range of motion (ROM) is critical to well-being and allows one to perform basic activities such as walking, climbing stairs and sitting. Lost ROM is called a joint contracture and results in increased morbidity. Due to the difficulty of reversing established knee contractures, early detection is important, and hence, knowing risk factors for their development is essential. The rat represents a good model with which the effect of an intervention can be studied due to the similarity of rat knee anatomy to that of humans, the rat's ability to tolerate long durations of knee immobilization in flexion, and because mechanical data can be correlated with histologic and biochemical analysis of knee tissue.

Using an automated arthrometer, we demonstrate a validated, precise, reproducible, user-independent method of measuring the extension ROM of the rat knee joint at specific torques. This arthrometer can be used to determine the effects of interventions on knee joint ROM in the rat.

Having full range of motion (ROM) of the joints is critical for health and well-being1. A loss in joint passive ROM is called a contracture2. Joint contractures may arise from numerous conditions, including prolonged bedrest, paralysis, joint arthroplasty, burns, infection, and neurologic conditions1,3,4,5. A contracture of the knee can be disabling as it accelerates joint degeneration, increases the risk of falls and detrimentally affects a person's ability to perform basic functional task....

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The rat knee immobilization model used has been approved by the University of Ottawa Animal Care and Veterinary Service and the local ethics committee.

1. Animal Preparation

  1. At the end of the predetermined immobilization period, euthanize the rats by administration of carbon dioxide.
    NOTE: Here we used an immobilization model with a plate and 2 screws (one inserted in the proximal femur and the other in the distal tibia), which avoids violation of any knee joint stru.......

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The amount of knee extension determined for various periods of immobility are summarized for increasing durations of immobility and show that more severe contractures were produced following increasing lengths of immobilization. Representative results using ImageJ are shown in Figure 3.

The ability to measure maximum extension of rat knees in a valid, precise and reproducible, user-independent manne.......

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The rat knee arthrometer was developed to reproducibly and reliably determine the maximum extension of the rat knee following an intervention. Advantages of this device include the consistent generation of torque across the knee joint with a constant arm length and extension force. Another advantage includes the ability to set the torque at a level that allows repetitive testing on the same joint to evaluate the influence of different articular structures on knee ROM, such as muscle, capsule, or ligament. For example, fo.......

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The authors would like to thank Joao Tomas for his technical assistance with the device and Khaoula Louati for assistance in developing the image analysis methods.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Arthrometer The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre - Rehabilitation Engineering  N/A
Camera Canon EOS-500D Commonly known as EOS Rebel T1i
ImageJ National Institutes of Health Version 1.45s
Absotbent Underpads VWR 820202-845
Dissection Kit Fisher 08-855 Kit Includes:  Forceps: medium points, nickel-plated
 Scissors: 1.5 in. (40mm) blades, stainless steel
 Dissecting knife handle: nickel-plated
 Knife blades: stainless steel, pack of 3
 Dropping pipet: glass
 Bent dissecting needle: stainless steel with plastic handle
 Straight dissecting needle: stainless steel with plastic handle
Vinylite Ruler 6 in. (15cm)
Precision Screw Driver Mastercraft 057-3505-8
Scalpel Blades - #10 Fine Science Tools 10010-00
Screwdriver Stanley 057-3558-2
Hex Keys Mastercraft 058-9684-2
Universal AC to DC powder adapter RCA 108004951

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