The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of pulsed electromagnetic field
(PEMF) exposure on healing tibial osteotomies in New Zealand White rabbits.
One-millimeter Gigli saw osteotomies were stabilized by external fixation. One day after surgery, rabbits were randomly assigned to receive either no exposure (sham control) or thirty minutes or sixty minutes per day of low-frequency, low-amplitude PEMF. Radiographs were obtained weekly throughout the study. Rabbits were euthanized at fourteen, twenty-one, or twenty-eight days, and tibiae underwent either destructive torsional testing or histologic analysis. To determine the baseline torsional strength and stiffness of rabbit tibiae, eleven normal intact tibiae were tested to failure.
Sixty-minute PEMF-treated osteotomies had significantly higher torsional strength than did sham controls at fourteen and twenty-one days postoperatively. Thirty-minute PEMF-treated osteotomies were significantly stronger than sham controls only after twenty-one days. Normal intact torsional strength was achieved by fourteen days in the sixty-minute PEMF group, by twenty-one days in the thirty-minute PEMF group, and by twenty-eight days in the sham controls. Maximum fracture callus area correlated with the time to reach normal torsional strength.
In this animal model, low-frequency, low-amplitude PEMF significantly accelerated callus formation and osteotomy healing in a dose-dependent manner.