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Anesthesiology. 1997 Apr;86(4):957-65.

Neurologic evaluation of infant and adult rats before and after sciatic nerve blockade.

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Department of Anesthesia, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Only limited data exist comparing differences in sensory function and responses to neural blockade in infant and adult rats. Therefore, the authors sought (1) to compare baseline thermal, proprioceptive, and postural responses in infant, adolescent, and adult rats; and (2) to compare the effects of sciatic nerve blockade on thermal, proprioceptive, and postural responses in infant, adolescent, and adult rats.


Infant, adolescent, and adult rats were evaluated for proprioceptive, thermal, and mechanical nociceptive and motor function before and after sciatic blockade using a detailed neurologic examination.


Mechanical and thermal nociception were present in all rats, starting from age 1 day. The withdrawal reflex latency to pinch was rapid at all ages, whereas that reaction to thermal stimulus depended on both age and temperature. In contrast, the tactile placing response and hopping response were absent at birth and developed completely during the first 10 days of life. The extensor postural thrust was absent in the first 2 weeks of life and developed variably during the first 50 days of life. Sciatic blockade duration is shorter in infant rats than in adult rats receiving the same dose per kilogram. A brief halothane general anesthetic at the time of sciatic injection in infant or adult rats does not alter the duration of blockade.


Infant rats show increased sensitivity to noxious thermal stimuli and similar response to deep mechanical stimuli compared with adult rats. Their proprioceptive and motor responses develop during the first 2 weeks of life. When doses are scaled by body weight, block duration is shorter in infant than in adult rats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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