American Society for Peripheral Nerve

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Diffusion Tensor Imaging as a diagnostic tool to assess partial nerve laceration severity and recovery in a rat model ex vivo
Angel Farinas, MD1, Isaac Manzanera Esteve, PhD2, Alonda Pollins, MLI2, Gabriella E Glassman, BS1, Richard D. Dortch, PhD2 and Wesley P. Thayer, MD, PhD3, (1)Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, (2)Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, (3)Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Background: Previous studies in our laboratory have demonstrated that a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can differentiate between crush and complete transection peripheral nerve injuries in a rat model ex vivo. DTI measures the directionally-dependent effect of tissue barriers on the random diffusion of water molecules. In ordered tissues such as nerves, this information can be used to reconstruct the primary direction of diffusion along fiber tracts, which may provide information on fiber tract continuity after nerve injury and surgical repair.

Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with different degrees of partial transection of the sciatic nerve (25, 50 and 75%) , followed by immediate repair and euthanized after 4 and 12-week of recovery. Nerves were then harvested, fixed, and scanned with a 7 Tesla MRI to obtain DTI and Tractography in each sample. Additional behavioral (sciatic function index, foot fault asymmetry) and histological (Toluidine blue staining) assessments were performed for validation.

Results: DTI parameters and Tractography was able to recognize the degree of injury and recovery that correlated with behavioral and histological evaluations at 4- and 12 weeks post-injury.

Conclusions: DTI and Tractography is a non-invasive tool that can identify the percentage of partial nerve transection and monitor recover for an early surgical intervention.

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