This study reports a rat model of chronic nerve compression. The sciatic nerves of adult male Sprague Dawley rats were banded with 1-cm lengths of tubing with varying internal diameters. Histological and electrical studies as well as studies to assess the blood-nerve barrier function were carried out at one through six months. With marked compression of the sciatic nerve, profound electrical changes were noted as early as one month, and histological findings were those of degeneration and regeneration. In the rats with minimal compression, nerve conduction studies remained normal. The earliest findings were alterations in the blood-nerve barrier, followed by histological changes in the large myelinated fibers at the periphery of the fascicles and changes about the nodes of Ranvier. This model appears to be a valid one with which to study other aspects of both the pathophysiology and treatment of chronic nerve compression.
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