Background: Segmental bone transport (SBT) is a revolutionary method for treating extensive bone defects, and it is in wide clinical use. Although external fixation is generally used to perform SBT, it is associated with problems such as complications due to pin placement and limitations of the amount and rate of lengthening. As a way to overcome these problems we developed a novel intramedullary (IM) nail for SBT that minimizes damage to the surrounding tissue and improves the amount and rate of bone lengthening. The purpose of this study was to perform SBT in the femur of beagle dogs using the novel IM nail that we devised, and to evaluate the morphology and quality of the regenerated bone and circulation status in the surrounding tissue. We also considered the possibilities and limitations of the IM in regard to clinical application. Methods: This experiment was conducted on six beagle dogs. The novel IM nail we devised was inserted into the marrow cavity of the femur, and a 30-mm bone defect was created. After a 7-day postoperative waiting period, a bone segment was transported by 1.0 mm per day in two 0.5-mm increments. Because the nail broke in two dogs, they received only partial elongation by 15 mm over a 15-day period, with a 15-mm defect remaining, whereas full elongation by 30 mm in 30 days was performed in the other four dogs. The elongation was followed by a 30-day bone hardening period. Results: The macroscopic and histological results demonstrated that high-quality, new bone had replaced the 30-mm bone defect created in the femur of all six dogs. The density and number of blood vessels that had penetrated the elongated segment of bone from the surrounding muscles was greater than in the corresponding segment of the contralateral femur, which served as a control. The results imply that the traction stimulus induced vigorous angiogenesis in the surrounding tissue. Conclusion: We concluded that this method has tremendous potential for clinical application, and will overcome the limitations of conventional external fixators.
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