Endogenous ionic currents traverse intact and damaged bone

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Science  03 Aug 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4661, pp. 478-482
DOI: 10.1126/science.6740320


Living bone drives an electric current through itself and into sites of damage. Such "fracture currents" consist of two components: an intense, decaying current dependent on bone deformation and a stable, persistent current driven by a cellular battery. The latter is carried by chloride ions and, to a lesser extent, by sodium, magnesium, and calcium ions. Endogenous fracture currents are of the same polarity and similar magnitude as clinically applied currents that are successful in treating chronic nonunions in fractured bones. This suggests that the defect in biological nonunions may reside in the electrophysiology of repair.