Fixation of whole mouse hindlimbs using NASA spaceflight fixation kit

James P. Fischer, Austin E. Wininger, Evan Himes, Nabarun Chakraborty, Rasha Hammamieh, Melissa Kacena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Astronaut time is one of the most valuable resources to consider when preparing for a spaceflight investigation. Currently, NASA allocates approximately 120 h of astronaut time toward each rodent research study. As spaceflight conditions increase the difficulty and time requirements of most tasks, finding ways to reduce astronaut time is important. Here, the hindlimb fixation technique currently used by NASA was examined to determine whether it could be altered to yield sufficient histological quality while decreasing astronaut time. To accomplish this, spaceflight fixation kits were procured and tested and the current protocol in which the skin is removed from the hindlimb before the limb is placed into the fixative bag vs. our revised protocol keeping the skin intact were compared. These findings were also compared to the standard laboratory procedure. It was found that sufficient quality of fixation of the femur is achieved with the spaceflight validated fixation bags, both when the skin is stripped from the leg as well as when the skin is intact. Therefore, for the bone healing study designed under Rodent Research 4 (RR-4), astronauts can leave the skin and soft tissue on the entire limb prior to fixation, minimizing the risk of breakage of the fragile bone healing sample and saving astronaut time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Histotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2017


  • Bone
  • fixation
  • fracture healing
  • histology
  • NASA
  • spaceflight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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  • Cite this

    Fischer, J. P., Wininger, A. E., Himes, E., Chakraborty, N., Hammamieh, R., & Kacena, M. (2017). Fixation of whole mouse hindlimbs using NASA spaceflight fixation kit. Journal of Histotechnology, 40(4), 115-120.