Objectives: Various models of spinal cord injury in rodents have been established, and also techniques for lesion quantification. Measurement of the extent of the underlying injury is essential for monitoring the reproducibility of the experimental injury and assessment of therapeutic effects. In this study, we tested manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI) for postmortem quantification of experimental spinal cord injury in rats.
Materials and methods: Twelve rats were subjected to contusion injuries at the 11th thoracic vertebra, followed by MnCl2 injections into the cisterna magna. After 3 days of observation, postmortem MEMRI-features were correlated with values of locomotion testing and histology.
Results: MnCl2 yielded a strong contrast enhancement of the uninjured spinal cord, whereas no enhancement was observed at the injury site or caudally. Magnetic resonance imaging findings correlate closely with locomotor ratings.
Conclusions: MEMRI represents a reliable method for visualization and functional assessment of spinal cord integrity in rats.