Each year in the United States, approximately 600,000 bone fractures show delayed or impaired healing and require subsequent surgical intervention1. Techniques for early identification of these cases are presently lacking but could make substantial impact on reducing the morbidity and costs associated with poor bone healing. A current barrier to early assessment of fracture healing is the difficulty in visualizing the cartilaginous “soft” callus that forms at the fracture site in the early stages of repair. The soft callus serves to partially stabilize the fracture and provides a template for subsequent formation of the bony “hard” callus2. Although measurement or estimation of the size, stiffness, and strength of the hard callus is possible by x-ray or computed tomography (CT)3, no analogous methods have been developed for the soft callus, due to the low radio-opacity of cartilage.

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