Early detection of burn induced heterotopic ossification using transcutaneous Raman spectroscopy

Jonathan R. Peterson, Paul I. Okagbare, Sara De La Rosa, Katherine E. Cilwa, Joseph E. Perosky, Oluwatobi N. Eboda, Alexis Donneys, Grace L. Su, Steven R. Buchman, Paul S. Cederna, Stewart C. Wang, Kenneth M. Kozloff, Michael D. Morris, Benjamin Levi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Introduction: Heterotopic ossification (HO), or the abnormal formation of bone in soft tissue, occurs in over 60% of major burn injuries and blast traumas. A significant need exists to improve the current diagnostic modalities for HO which are inadequate to diagnose and intervene on HO at early time-points. Raman spectroscopy has been used in previous studies to report on changes in bone composition during bone development but has not yet been applied to burn induced HO. In this study, we validate transcutaneous, in-vivo Raman spectroscopy as a methodology for early diagnosis of HO in mice following a burn injury. Methods: An Achilles tenotomy model was used to study HO formation. Following tenotomy, mice were divided into burn and sham groups with exposure of 30% surface area on the dorsum to 60° water or 30° water for 18. s respectively. In-vivo, transcutaneous Raman spectroscopy was performed at early time points (5. days, 2 and 3. weeks) and a late time point (3. months) on both the tenotomized and non-injured leg. These same samples were then dissected down to the bone and ex-vivo Raman measurements were performed on the excised tissue. Bone formation was verified with Micro CT and histology at corresponding time-points. Results: Our Raman probe allowed non-invasive, transcutaneous evaluation of heterotopic bone formation. Raman data showed significantly increased bone mineral signaling in the tenotomy compared to control leg at 5. days post injury, with the difference increasing over time whereas Micro CT did not demonstrate heterotopic bone until three weeks. Ex-vivo Raman measurements showed significant differences in the amount of HO in the burn compared to sham groups and also showed differences in the spectra of new, ectopic bone compared to pre-existing cortical bone. Conclusions: Burn injury increases the likelihood of developing HO when combined with traumatic injury. In our in-vivo mouse model, Raman spectroscopy allowed for detection of HO formation as early as 5. days post injury. Changes in bone mineral and matrix composition of the new bone were also evidenced in the Raman spectra which could facilitate early identification of HO and allow more timely therapy decisions for HO patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-34
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Achilles tenotomy
  • Bone
  • Burn injury
  • Heterotopic ossification
  • Micro CT
  • Raman spectroscopy


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