To compare the effects of unreamed nail insertion and reamed nail insertion with limited and standard canal reaming on cortical bone porosity and new bone formation.

A canine segmental tibial fracture was created in fifteen adult dogs. The tibiae were stabilized with a statically locked 6.5-millimeter intramedullary nail without prior canal reaming (n = 5), after limited reaming to 7.0 millimeters (n = 5), or after standard canal reaming to 9.0 millimeters (n = 5). Porosity, new bone formation, and the mineral apposition rate of cortical bone were directly compared between the three nailing techniques.

A significant increase in cortical bone porosity and new bone formation was seen in all three groups of experimental animals compared with the control tibiae. The overall lowest porosity levels were measured in the limited reamed group, with similar porosity levels measured in the unreamed and standard reamed groups. Porosity was lower in the limited reamed group in the entire cortex of the segmental and distal cross sections, as well as the endosteal, anterior, and posterior cortices along the length of the tibia. Overall, there was no difference in the amount of new bone formation or the mineral apposition rate between the three groups of animals at eleven weeks after surgery.

The results of this study suggest that limited intramedullary reaming is a biologically sound alternative for the treatment of tibial diaphyseal fractures in which the circulation is already compromised.