Experimental assessment of peripheral nerve regeneration in rats by electrophysiology is controversial due to low reproducibility of electrophysiological indicators and diminished quantitative evaluation in conventional experimental set-ups. Magnetoneurography (MNG) counteracts these drawbacks by magnetically recording electrophysiological signals ex vivo, thereby providing accurate and quantitative data. In 50 rats, sciatic nerve transection was followed by direct repair. MNG outcome parameters, footprints [static toe spread factor (TSF); function] and muscle weight (MW) were studied for their recovery pattern from 2 to 24 weeks. By using MNG, we showed that the regeneration process still continues when functional recovery (static TSF) becomes stagnant. With regression analysis, MNG parameters amplitude, amplitude area and conduction velocity (CV) demonstrated moderate significant correlation with MW, whereas CV was not significantly associated with static TSF. No significant association exists between MW and static TSF. A Kaplan-Meier survival curve revealed that autotomy/contracture of rat hind paws was not related to decreased MNG outcome values. In conclusion, this study highlights and discusses the dissimilarities between direct (MNG) and indirect (static TSF and MW) assessment techniques of the regeneration process. We emphasise the significance of MNG as a direct derivative of axon regeneration in experimental rat studies. Additionally, we stress the must for right-left ratios, as neurophysiological indicators vary with age, and we confute possible bias in footprint analysis caused by exclusion of autotomy/contracture animals.

Autotomy, Electrophysiology, Footprint, Function, Magnetoneurography, Muscle weight, Peripheral nerve, Rat
dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1085-9489.2006.00077.x, hdl.handle.net/1765/64400
Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Smit, X, de Kool, B.S, Blok, J.H, Visser, G.H, Hovius, S.E.R, & van Neck, J.W. (2006). Recovery of neurophysiological features with time after rat sciatic nerve repair: A magneto-neurographic study. Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System, 11(2), 126–134. doi:10.1111/j.1085-9489.2006.00077.x