The domestic guinea pig, Cavia aperea f. porcellus, belongs to the Caviidae family of rodents. It is an important species as a pet, a source of food and in medical research. Adult weight is achieved at 8-12 months and life expectancy is ~5-6 years. Our aim was to map bone local thickness, structure and dimensions across developmental stages in the normal animal. Guinea pigs (n = 23) that had died of natural causes were collected and the bones manually extracted and cleaned. Institutional ethical permission was given under the UK Home Office guidelines and the Veterinary Surgeons Act. X-ray Micro Computed Tomography (microCT) was undertaken on the left and right scapula, humerus and femur from each animal to ascertain bone local thickness. Images were also used to undertake manual and automated bone measurements, volumes and surface areas, identify and describe nutrient, supratrochlear and supracondylar foramina. Statistical analysis between groups was carried out using ANOVA with post-hoc testing. Our data mapped a number of dimensions, and mean and maximum bone thickness of the scapula, humerus and femur in guinea pigs aged 0-1 month, 1-3 months, 3-6 months, 6 months-1 year and 1-4 years. Bone dimensions, growth rates and local bone thicknesses differed between ages and between the scapula, humerus and femur. The microCT and imaging software technology showed very distinct differences between the relative local bone thickness across the structure of the bones. Only one bone showed a singular nutrient foramen, every other bone had between 2 and 5, and every nutrient canal ran in an oblique direction. In contrast to other species, a supratrochlear foramen was observed in every humerus whereas the supracondylar foramen was always absent. Our data showed the bone local thickness, bone structure and measurements of guinea pig bones from birth to 4 years old. Importantly it showed that bone development continued after 1 year, the point at which most guinea pigs have reached full weight. This study is the first to show the high abundance (100%in this study) of the supratrochlear foramen within the guinea pig humerus and the complete absence of a supracondylar foramen, which is different to many other species and may also affect potential fracture points and frequencies. Understanding bone morphology and growth is essential in not only understanding the requirements of the healthy guinea pig, but also necessary in order to investigate disease states.
Witkowska, A., Alibhai, A., Hughes, C., Price, J., Klisch, K., Sturrock, C. J., & Rutland, C. S. (2014). Computed tomography analysis of guinea pig bone: Architecture, bone thickness and dimensions throughout development. PeerJ, 2014(1). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.615