Link between clinical predictors of heterotopic ossification and histological analysis in combat-injured service members

B. M. Isaacson*, B. K. Potter, R. D. Bloebaum, R. T. Epperson, B. S. Kawaguchi, T. M. Swanson, P. F. Pasquina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a debilitating condition that occurs following traumatic injury and may restrict range of motion and delay rehabilitation. The timing and efficacy of surgical resection have varied widely, and there is a gap in knowledge between clinical predictors of HO recurrence and histological analysis. Methods: Thirty-three service members seen at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for symptomatic HO were enrolled in an institutional review board-approved study. Participants took oxytetracycline on four scheduled days prior to HO resection to determine the mineral apposition rate (bone growth rate). Results: Detailed histological analyses included scanning electron microscopy with backscattered electron imaging and light microscopy. Data indicated that the mineral apposition rate of trauma-induced HO was approximately 1.7 μm/day at the time of operative intervention, which was 1.7 times higher than the rate in non-pathological human bone. The mineral apposition rate and postoperative alkaline phosphatase values were demonstrated to be positively and significantly related (r = 0.509, p = 0.026, n = 19). When the analysis was limited to patients with no more than a two-year period from injury to excision (thereby removing outliers who had a longer time period than their counterparts) and traumatic brain injury and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (known correlates with HO development) were controlled for in the statistical analysis, the mineral apposition rate and recurrence severity were significantly related (r =20.572, p = 0.041, n = 11). Conclusions: Data demonstrated a link between benchtop research and bedside care, with the mineral apposition rate elevated in patients with HO and correlated with recurrence severity; however, a larger sample size and more clinical factors are needed to refine this model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-657
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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