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J Neurotrauma. 1992 Fall;9(3):197-217.

Spinal cord injury produced by consistent mechanical displacement of the cord in rats: behavioral and histologic analysis.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Ohio State University, Columbus.


We examined the ability of an electromechanical device to produce consistent and incomplete thoracic (T9) spinal cord injuries in rats by brief displacement (Dspl) of the exposed dural surface. Open field walking, inclined plane, grid walking, and footprint analysis, and a determination of the percentage of tissue spared at the lesion center were used to assess chronic outcome (6 weeks postinjury). Laminectomy control animals showed no evidence of a functional deficit or histologic lesion. Complete spinal cord transections in normal rats and in a group of animals previously injured (1.1 mm Dspl) and allowed to recover resulted in complete loss of hindlimb function, demonstrating an important functional role for the remaining spared fibers at the lesion site. Consistent spinal cord displacements (0.80 mm, 0.95 mm, and 1.10 mm) resulted in behavioral groups with low outcome variability over a narrow range of incomplete recovery of neurologic function. Significant behavioral (open field walking, inclined plane, and grid walking) and histologic differences were found between the control and Dspl groups and between the 0.80 mm and 1.10 mm Dspl groups. Significant correlations were observed among the injury parameters, behavioral, and histologic scores. Open field walking and inclined plane performance were sensitive indicators of both the early and late phases of neurologic recovery. Grid walking was most useful in animals with small chronic residual deficits. The footprint analysis resulted in less significant correlations and differences between the behavioral groups than the other outcome measures. This may result from a relatively narrow range of sensitivity (open field walking scores between 3.3 and 4.0) and increased variability within the groups.

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