Purpose: To describe a method for the assessment of gait dynamics in rats submitted to limb ischemia.
Methods: Twenty-four male Wistar rats (150-160g) were used. Twelve animals were submitted to limb ischemia by ligation of the common left iliac artery (ischemic group: n = 12); and a sham-operated group was used as control (n=12). After a recovery period of 6 weeks, gait dynamics was assessed by counting the complete footprints and the number of hindlimb-floor contacts during a treadmill test for five minutes at a speed of 12 m.min(-1) and angulation of 15°. The number of contacts of the left hindlimb was divided by the right hindlimb values (LRR) for group comparisons. Ischemic disability was quantified by comparing the area under curve (AUC) created by plotting each contact versus time for each hindlimb. The left hindlimb ischemic disability index (LHDI), which was compared between groups, was defined by the formula: LHDI = (1- AUC (left) / AUC (right)) x 100.
Results: Surgery was well tolerated by all animals. Rats did not suffer tissue loss or ulcerations. Complete footprint LRR was 0.3 ± 0.08 for the ischemic group and 1.3 ± 0.9 for controls (p=0.0043). Number of contacts LLR was 0.5 ± 0.2 for the ischemic group and 1.0 ± 0.1 for the control group (p=0.0051). LHDI was 56.83 ± 10.67 for the ischemic group and 2.50 ± 13.10 for the control group (P = 0.031).
Conclusion: Assessment of gait dynamics in rats submitted to limb ischemia could be done by footprint analysis and hindlimb contact recording during a treadmill test.