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J Biomech. 2006;39(14):2725-32. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

Pressure-time cell death threshold for albino rat skeletal muscles as related to pressure sore biomechanics.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.


Deep pressure sores (DPS) are associated with inadequate soft tissue perfusion and excessive tissue deformation over critical time durations, as well as with ischemia-reperfusion cycles and deficiency of the lymphatic system. Muscle tissue shows the lowest tolerance to pressure injuries, compared with more superficial tissues. In this communication, we present new histopathology data for muscle tissue of albino (Sprague-Dawley) rats exposed to pressures for 15 or 30 min. These data are superimposed with an extensive literature review of all previous histopathology reported for albino rat skeletal muscles subjected to pressure. The pooled data enabled a new mathematical characterization of the pressure-time threshold for cell death in striated muscle of rats, in the form of a sigmoid pressure-time relation, which extends the previous pressure-time relation to the shorter exposure periods. We found that for pressure exposures shorter than 1 h, the magnitude of pressure is the important factor for causing cell death and the exposure time has little or no effect: even relatively short exposures (15 min - 1 h) to pressures greater than 32 kPa (240 mmHg) cause cell death in rat muscle tissue. For exposures of 2 h or over, again the magnitude of pressure is the important factor for causing cell death: pressures greater than 9 kPa (67 mmHg) applied for over 2 h consistently cause muscle cell death. For the intermediate exposures (between 1 and 2 h), the magnitude of cell-death-causing pressure strongly depends on the time of exposure, i.e., critical pressure levels drop from 32 to 9 kPa. The present sigmoidal pressure-time cell death threshold is useful for design of studies in albino rat models of DPS, and may also be helpful in numerical simulations of DPS development, where there is often a need to extrapolate from tissue pressures to biological damage.

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