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, 170 (2), 255-61

Is the Sciatic Functional Index Always Reliable and Reproducible?


Is the Sciatic Functional Index Always Reliable and Reproducible?

Vanessa Vilela Monte-Raso et al. J Neurosci Methods.


The Sciatic Functional Index (SFI) is a quite useful tool for the evaluation of functional recovery of the sciatic nerve of rats in a number of experimental injuries and treatments. Although it is an objective method, it depends on the examiner's ability to adequately recognize and mark the previously established footprint key points, which is an entirely subjective step, thus potentially interfering with the calculations according to the mathematical formulae proposed by different authors. Thus, an interpersonal evaluation of the reproducibility of an SFI computer-aided method was carried out here to study data variability. A severe crush injury was produced on a 5 mm-long segment of the right sciatic nerve of 20 Wistar rats (a 5000 g load directly applied for 10 min) and the SFI was measured by four different examiners (an experienced one and three newcomers) preoperatively and at weekly intervals from the 1st to the 8th postoperative week. Three measurements were made for each print and the average was calculated and used for statistical analysis. The results showed that interpersonal correlation was high (0.82) in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th weeks, with an unexpected but significant (p<0.01) drop in the 6th week. There was virtually no interpersonal correlation (correlation index close to 0) on the 1st and 2nd weeks, a period during which the variability between animals and examiners (p=0.24 and 0.32, respectively) was similar, certainly due to a poor definition of the footprints. The authors conclude that the SFI method studied here is only reliable from the 3rd week on after a severe lesion of the sciatic nerve of rats.

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