Motor nerve recovery in a rabbit model: Description and validation of a noninvasive ultrasound technique

Liselotte F. Bulstra, Caroline A. Hundepool, Patricia F. Friedrich, Tim H.J. Nijhuis, Allen T. Bishop, Alexander Y. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose To develop and validate a noninvasive ultrasound technique for the longitudinal analysis of functional recovery after segmental peroneal nerve reconstruction in a rabbit model. Methods Twelve male New Zealand White rabbits underwent a 1-cm peroneal nerve autograft reconstruction. Ultrasound measurements were performed before surgery and at 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks postoperatively. All rabbits were managed with manual restraint for the ultrasound procedure, avoiding the risks of anesthetics. At 12 and 16 weeks, we evaluated functional recovery using compound muscle action potential, isometric tetanic force measurements, wet muscle weight, and nerve histomorphometry. Data were compared with ultrasound measurements by calculating the Pearson correlation coefficient. We determined intra-rater and inter-rater reliability of the ultrasound measurements. Results Ultrasound demonstrated good correlation with isometric tetanic force measurements and wet muscle weight, good correlation with nerve histomorphometry, and moderate correlation with compound muscle action potential. Both intra-rater and inter-rater reliability of the ultrasound technique was excellent. Conclusions Ultrasound analysis of the tibialis anterior muscle provided a reliable method for analysis of functional recovery in a rabbit peroneal nerve reconstruction model. The noninvasive nature allowed for longitudinal follow-up within the same animal and measurement of early recovery without the use of anesthesia. Clinical relevance Application of this noninvasive technique can reduce the variability and sample size necessary in peripheral nerve reconstruction studies and may provide an ideal tool for comparative studies in larger animal models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Autograft
  • peripheral nerve injury
  • rabbit
  • tibial muscle
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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