The 1995 Lindberg Award. Nonthermally mediated muscle injury and necrosis in electrical trauma

J Burn Care Rehabil. 1995 Nov-Dec;16(6):581-8.


Joule heating has long been considered the principal component of tissue damage in electrical injury. Recent studies suggest electroporation, a nonthermally mediated mechanism of cell membrane damage, is also a factor. We investigated whether electroporation-mediated muscle necrosis can occur in vivo without significant Joule heating. Pulsed electric fields approximately 150 V/cm were produced in the hind limbs of anesthetized rats. In shocked limbs core muscle temperature rose less than 1.8 degrees C, yet significant damage occurred as determined by technetium-99m pyrophosphate uptake, elevated serum creatine phosphokinase, and prominent hypercontraction band degeneration of myofibers on histopathologic examination. This study is significant because it directly addresses whether nonthermal mechanisms of cell damage can cause tissue necrosis. These results indicate that electroporation effects can mediate skeletal muscle necrosis without visible thermal changes. Thus the phenomenon of "progressive recognition" may be characteristically largely explained by the occurrence of nonthermally mediated tissue damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Awards and Prizes*
  • Burns, Electric / pathology*
  • Burns, Electric / physiopathology
  • Cell Survival
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Necrosis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Technetium Tc 99m Pyrophosphate


  • Technetium Tc 99m Pyrophosphate
  • Creatine Kinase