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Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 27;8(1):12911. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30961-1.

In vivo Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging, and Tractography of a Sciatic Nerve Injury Model in Rat at 9.4T.

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Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Surgical and Perioperative Science, Section of Hand and Plastic Surgery, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå Center for Comparative Biology (UCCB), Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Peripheral nerve injuries result in severe loss of sensory and motor functions in the afflicted limb. There is a lack of standardised models to non-invasively study degeneration, regeneration, and normalisation of neuronal microstructure in peripheral nerves. This study aimed to develop a non-invasive evaluation of peripheral nerve injuries, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI), and tractography on a rat model of sciatic nerve injury. 10 female Sprague Dawley rats were exposed to sciatic nerve neurotmesis and studied using a 9.4 T magnet, by performing DTI and DKI of the sciatic nerve before and 4 weeks after injury. The distal nerve stump showed a decrease in fractional anisotropy (FA), mean kurtosis (MK), axonal water fraction (AWF), and radial and axonal kurtosis (RK, AK) after injury. The proximal stump showed a significant decrease in axial diffusivity (AD) and increase of MK and AK as compared with the uninjured nerve. Both mean diffusivity (MD) and radial diffusivity (RD) increased in the distal stump after injury. Tractography visualised the sciatic nerve and the site of injury, as well as local variations of the diffusion parameters following injury. In summary, the described method detects changes both proximal and distal to the nerve injury.

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