Original Research

The creation of a measurable contusion injury in skeletal muscle

Margaret N. Deane, Michael Gregory, Maurice Mars
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 85, No 1 | a1031 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v85i1.1031 | © 2014 Margaret N. Deane, Michael Gregory, Maurice Mars | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2013 | Published: 26 August 2014

About the author(s)

Margaret N. Deane, Department of Physiotherapy, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Michael Gregory, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Maurice Mars, Department of Telehealth, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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The effect that compressed air massage (CAM) has on skeletal muscle has been ascertained by the morphological and morphometric evaluation of healthy vervet monkey and rabbit skeletal muscle. How CAM may influence the process of healing following a contusion injury is not known. To determine how CAM or other physiotherapeutic modalities may influence healing, it is necessary to create a minor injury that is both reproducible and quantifiable at the termination of a pre-determined healing period. An earlier study described changes in the morphology of skeletal muscle following a reproducible contusion injury. This study extended that work in that it attempted to quantify the ‘severity’ of such an injury. A 201 g, elongated oval-shaped weight was dropped seven times through a 1 m tube onto the left vastus lateralis muscle of four New Zealand white rabbits. Biopsies were obtained 6 days after injury from the left healing juxta-bone and sub-dermal muscle and uninjured (control) right vastus lateralis of each animal. The tissue was fixed in formal saline, embedded in wax, cut and stained with haematoxylin and phosphotungstic haematoxylin. The muscle was examined by light microscopy and quantification of the severity of injury made using a modified, ‘in-house’ morphological index and by the comparative morphometric measurement of the cross-sectioned epimysium and myofibres in injured and control muscle. The results showed that a single contusion causes multiple, quantifiable degrees of injury from skin to bone – observations of particular importance to others wishing to investigate contusion injury in human or animal models.


Skeletal muscle; Contusion injury; Microscopy; Morphometry


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