Miniscrew-assisted slow expansion of mature rabbit sutures


Ross J. Pulver, Phillip M. Campbell, Lynne A. Opperman, Peter H. Buschang


In this study, we experimentally evaluated whether complex, mature sutures can be separated using skeletal anchorage and light, continuous forces.

Twelve adult, 8- to 9-month-old female New Zealand white rabbits were randomly assigned to 1 control group and 2 experimental groups. Open-coil nickel-titanium springs delivered constant forces of 100 g across the sagittal suture to miniscrew implants placed bilaterally in the frontal bone. Sutural separation was measured biweekly. Separation was also measured with microcomputed tomography. Bone formation (mineral apposition) was measured with fluorescent labels. Qualitative histologic analyses of the suture tissues were performed using hematoxylin and eosin staining; osteoclasts were evaluated with tartrate resistant acid phosphatase staining.

All 24 miniscrew implants remained stable throughout the experiment. There was no statistically significant sutural separation in the control group. In the experimental groups, sutural separation was significant (P <0.05) at all time points after the initial records were taken. The rate of separation was linear during the first 42 days. There were moderate correlations (R = 0.59-0.89; P <0.05) between miniscrew implant separation and bone marker separation. Mineral apposition rate, which was not measureable in the control group, was significant in the experimental group. The mineral apposition rate was greater between 14 and 28 days than between 28 and 38 days, and it was greater on the ectocranial than on the endocranial surface. Based on the microcomputed tomography analysis, 3-dimensional sutural volume of the experimental group increased significantly (P = 0.02), but surface area did not (P = 0.26).

It is possible to separate the sagittal suture of mature rabbits. Sutural separation is limited, indicating involvement of other articulations.