Third Place Winner of the Conrad Jobst Award in the Gold Medal Paper Competition. Prevention of Spinal Cord Dysfunction in a New Model of Spinal Cord Ischemia

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Paraplegia or paraparesis caused by temporary cross-clamping of the aorta is a devastating sequela in patients after surgery of the thoracoabdominal aorta. No effective clinical method is available to protect the spinal cord from ischemic reperfusion injury. A small animal (rat) model of spinal cord ischemia is established to better understand the pathophysiological events and to evaluate potential treatments. Eighty-one male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 300 g to 350 g were used for model development (45) and treatment evaluation (36). The heparinized and anesthetized rat was supported by a respirator following tracheostomy. The thoracic aorta was cannulated via the left carotid artery for post-clamping intra-aortic treatment solution administration. After thoracotomy, the aorta was freed and temporarily clamped just distal to the left subclavian artery and just proximal to the diaphragm for different time intervals: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 minutes (five animals per group). The motor function of the lower extremities postoperatively showed consistent impairment after 30 minutes clamping (5/5 rats were paralyzed), and this time interval was used for treatment evaluation. For each treatment, six animals per group were used, and direct local intra-aortic infusion of physiologic solution (2 mL) at different temperatures with or without buffer substances was given immediately after double cross-clamp to protect the ischemic spinal cord. Arterial blood (2 mL) was infused in the control group. The data indicate that the addition of HCO3-(20 mM) to the hypothermic (15 degrees C) solution offered complete protection of the spinal cord from ischemic injury.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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