Characterization of a rat model of incisional pain

Pain. 1996 Mar;64(3):493-502. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(95)01441-1.


In this study, we developed a rat model of incisional pain. A 1-cm longitudinal incision was made through skin, fascia and muscle of the plantar aspect of the hindpaw in halothane-anesthetized rats. Withdrawal responses were measured using von Frey filaments at different areas around the wound before surgery and for the next 6 days. A cumulative pain score based on the weight bearing behavior of the animals was also utilized. The results of tests for withdrawal responses and scores based on weight bearing suggest that a surgical incision of the rat foot causes a reliable and quantifiable mechanical hyperalgesia lasting for several days after surgery. An incision that only included skin and fascia but not muscle in the foot caused less severe hyperalgesia during the initial postoperative period. Distinct areas around the wound had different withdrawal thresholds during the study period. Even remote sites as much as 10 mm from the wound showed persistent mechanical hyperalgesia. Selective denervations of the rat hindpaw prior to foot incision revealed both the sural and tibial nerves were responsible for transmitting input from the incision that produces hyperalgesia. This model should allow us to understand mechanisms of sensitization caused by surgery and investigate new therapies for postoperative pain in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Denervation
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / physiopathology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley