Neurophysiological and histopathological evaluation of low-dose radiation on the cauda equina and postlaminotomy fibrosis: An experimental study in the rat

Wei-Ren Su, Jung-Shun Lee, Helen H.W Chen, Liang-Chao Wang, Yi Hung Huang, Yun Chih Jung, I. Ming Jou

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7 Citations (Scopus)


STUDY DESIGN.: We evaluated the electrophysiological changes to the cauda equina after low-dose external irradiation in a postlaminotomy fibrosis model in rats. OBJECTIVE.: To clarify the immediate and long-term electrophysiological responses of antifibrotic radiation therapy in a fibrosis model. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Low-dose perioperative radiation therapy inhibits scar formation. However, its efficacy for preventing fibrosis-induced compressive neuropathy and its potential adverse effect on underlying neural structures have not been studied. METHODS.: Twenty-four rats were placed in 3 groups of 8: group I, sham operation (laminar exposure alone) with a single fraction of 700 cGy external irradiation given using a 9-MeV electron beam 24 hours postsurgery; group II, left L5 hemilaminectomy (laminotomy) alone; and group III, left L5 hemilaminectomy with the same radiation protocol as group 1. We recorded mixed-nerve-elicited somatosensory-evoked potentials (M-SSEP)- and dermal (D)-SSEP at the thoracolumbar junction, and L1-L2 interspinous ligament after percutaneously stimulating the posterior tibial nerve at the bilateral medial ankle and L5 dermatomal fields. We compared the potentials recorded immediately before, 30 minutes, 2 weeks, and 1, 2, and 3 months after surgery on the operated and nonoperated sides. We used gross dissection and histologic sections to evaluate the degree of perineural fibrosis and walking-track analysis for neurologic evaluation. RESULTS.: Pre- and postoperative (30 minutes and 2 weeks) M- and D-SSEP were not statistically different. In group II, the relative amplitude of D-SSEP (elicited from 5 dermatomes) 1, 2, and 3 months postsurgery was lower; however, the M-SSEP in all groups and D-SSEP of groups I and III remained constant. Histologic evaluation of radiation efficacy showed that the frequency and extent of peridural fibrosis was consistently lower in group II than in group III. CONCLUSION.: Low-dose irradiation reduced peridural fibrosis and prevented fibrosis-induced radiculopathy. The radiation caused no adverse neuropathic complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-469
Number of pages7
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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