Changes in conduction, blood flow, histology, and neurological status following acute nerve-stretch injury induced by femoral lengthening

J Orthop Res. 2000 Jan;18(1):149-55. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100180121.


The effects of an acute stretch on evoked potential, blood flow, histological change, and clinical neurological state were studied in a rat model of acute nerve stretch induced by femoral lengthening. The purposes of this study were to assess, in a model of acute limb lengthening, the safe limits of nerve stretch for nerve function, the pathogenesis of nerve dysfunction, the sensitivity of spinal somatosensory evoked potential, and one of the proposed criteria for irreversible compromise of the sciatic nerve. Thirty-two rats were assigned to one of four groups defined by the degree of acute femoral lengthening (8, 16, 24, and 32%). Spinal somatosensory evoked potential at L5/6 following stimulation of the sciatic nerve was recorded before, immediately after, and 30 minutes after lengthening. Sciatic nerve blood flow was measured by laser Doppler flowmetry at the stretched site before and after lengthening. One week after the operation and without further lengthening, clinical neurological status was evaluated by the functional index of the sciatic nerve and histological examination was performed. At the measurement immediately after the procedure, amplitude changed significantly in all groups except for the group with 8% lengthening. In all groups, sciatic nerve blood flow also dropped significantly compared with values for the control side. Moreover, a greater percentage increase in acute lengthening corresponded with more marked changes in spinal somatosensory evoked potential and sciatic nerve blood flow. The groups that underwent acute lengthening of 24 and 32% had significant neurological deficits and histological changes and demonstrated a significant and profound (50%) drop in amplitude and blood flow. We concluded that spinal somatosensory evoked potential is very sensitive and may serve as an effective tool for the early detection of impending acute nerve-stretch injury and that a 50% reduction in amplitude indicates irreversible damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Bone Lengthening*
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Femur / surgery
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Sciatic Nerve / blood supply
  • Sciatic Nerve / injuries*
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology