Techniques used to produce partial spinal cord injuries in animal models have the potential for creating variability in lesions. The amount of tissue affected may influence the functional outcomes assessed in the animals. The recording of somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) may be a valuable tool for assessing the extent of lesion applied in animal models of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Intraoperative tibial SSEP recordings were assessed during surgically induced lateral thoracic hemisection SCI in Sprague-Dawley rats. The transmission of SSEPs, or lack thereof, was determined and compared against the integrity of the dorsal funiculi on each side of the spinal cord upon histological sectioning. An association was found between the presence of an SSEP signal and presence of intact dorsal funiculus tissue. The relative risk is 4.50 (95% confidence interval: 1.83-11.08) for having an intact dorsal funiculus when the ipsilateral SSEP was present compared to when it was absent. Additionally, the amount of spared spinal cord tissue correlates with final functional assessments at nine weeks post injury: BBB (linear regression, R2=0.618, p<0.001) and treadmill test (linear regression, R2=0.369, p=0.016). Therefore, we propose intraoperative SSEP monitoring as a valuable tool to assess extent of lesion and reduce variability between animals in experimental studies of SCI.
- Functional outcome
- Incomplete spinal cord injury
- Pathologic correlation
ASJC Scopus subject areas