Various factors affect the choice of the appropriate animal for craniofacial research. We have evaluated the rabbit as a suitable animal for research on craniofacial distraction osteogenesis. We describe our experience with housing and handling them, surgical and experimental protocols, and compare them with other animals. We introduce, and describe the use of, a continuous hydraulic distractor on the nasal bones of the rabbit. Fifty-two skeletally mature New Zealand White rabbits were used. Forty-two of the 52 operations were uneventful. Ten of the fifty-two developed complications, of which two were animal-related, and the other eight distractor-related. During the experiments the animals stayed healthy, and the distraction procedures were well tolerated. Rabbits are excellent for use in biological research on craniofacial distraction osteogenesis. Specifically, their nasal bones are easily accessible, the size and shape of the nasal bones allow various commercially available as well as custom-made distractors to be attached to the bones easily, their care and housing are relatively simple and inexpensive, and harvesting of tissue for further analyses is no problem because their skulls are of a manageable size and shape compared with other laboratory animals.

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British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Djasim, U., Hekking-Weijma, I., Wolvius, E., van Neck, H., & van der Wal, K. (2008). Rabbits as a model for research into craniofacial distraction osteogenesis. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 46(8), 620–624. doi:10.1016/j.bjoms.2008.04.002