Journal of computer assisted tomography

Development of a Rabbit Model of Radiation-Induced Sciatic Nerve Injury: In Vivo Evaluation Using T2 Relaxation Time Measurements.

PMID 25816355


To develop a rabbit model of radiation-induced sciatic nerve injury (RISNI), using computed tomography (CT)-guided stereotactic radiosurgery, and assess the value of T2 measurements of injured nerves. Twenty New Zealand rabbits were randomly divided into A (n = 5) and B (n = 15) groups. Group A rabbits underwent CT and magnetic resonance scan and were then killed for comparison of images and anatomy of sciatic nerves. One side of the sciatic nerve of group B rabbits received irradiation doses of 35, 50, or 70 Gy (n = 5 per group). Magnetic resonance imaging and functional assessments were performed before irradiation and 1, 2, 3, and 4 months thereafter. The thigh section of the sciatic nerve outside the pelvis could be observed by CT and magnetic resonance imaging. T2 values of the irradiated nerve of the 35-Gy group increased gradually, peaking at 4 months; T2 values of the 50-Gy group increased faster, peaking at 3 months. Significant differences between the 35-Gy and control groups were found at 3 and 4 months, and between the 50-Gy and control groups at 2, 3, and 4 months. Functional scores of the 50-Gy group declined progressively, whereas the 35-Gy group scores reached a low point at 3 months posttreatment and then recovered. Functional scores of the irradiated limbs demonstrated a negative correlation with T2 values (r = -0.591 and -0.595, P < 0.05). Electron microscopy revealed progressive deformation and degeneration of the irradiated nerve in the 35- and 50-Gy groups, which were more severe in the 50-Gy group. A rabbit RISNI model can be produced using the midthigh segment of the sciatic nerve and single-fraction doses of 35 and 50 Gy. Although T2 values are useful for monitoring RISNI, they may not be sensitive enough to evaluate its severity.