February 23, 2021

Calcification after severe injury

Vanderbilt researchers have linked bone-related complications of severely injured patients — findings that could help minimize these complications.

Patients with severe injuries, such as level 1 trauma or burns, face many complications of calcification during recovery. One is loss of bone, or osteoporosis. Another is calcification of soft tissue, resulting in heterotopic ossification — the presence of bone in soft tissue where bone does not normally exist. 

It has been suggested that the two conditions are linked, and that bone lost due to osteoporosis could “transfer” to soft tissue compartments. Stephanie Moore-Lotridge, PhD, Jonathan Schoenecker, MD, PhD and colleagues sought to determine if these conditions are in fact linked for injured patients.  

The research team published in Bone Reports that temporally, progressive bone loss was coincident with soft tissue mineralization, both occurring in the first week after injury. 

Further experiments are required, but the short succession between the onset of osteoporosis and calcification shows the likelihood of these complications being linked. More studies are needed to prove the link further and to help minimize the complications of severely injured patients.

Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Health (grants GM126062, GM007628, AR059039, HL149340, AR065762), VUMC Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Jeffrey W. Mast Chair in Orthopaedics Trauma and Hip Surgery, and Caitlin Lovejoy Fund.