Objective：To assess the effects of immobilization on the three-dimensional microstructure of cortical and cancellous bone.
Methods：Eight-week-old specific-pathogen-free Wistar rats were divided into two groups：the control (n＝12) and immobilized group (n＝12). The hind limbs of the rats in the immobilized group were fixed using orthopedic casts for 4 weeks. The cortical bone at the mid-shaft and the cancellous bone at the distal metaphysis of the femur were analyzed using micro-computed tomography.
Results：The values of total cross-sectional area, cortical bone area, and cortical thickness in the immobilized group were significantly lower than those in the control group. Meanwhile, the relative bone volume (bone volume/total volume) and mean trabecular thickness in the immobilized group decreased and the structure model index significantly increased compared with the values in the control group (P＜0.05).
Conclusion：Our rat model can evaluate the effects of load-permitting immobilization. The results of this study indicate that structural changes in immobilized osteopenia-affected bone arise mainly from thinning of the cortex and reduction of cancellous bone volume caused by a reduction of trabecular width.