Background: The sustained compression to the spinal cord caused by muscle scars after surgery in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) models makes it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic regimens. The present study aims to evaluate potential strategies to reduce such compression.
Materials and Methods: Rat SCI models were used and divided into two groups: one with muscle layer sutured after surgery and the other not sutured. The time point of muscle scar formation was determined by hematoxylin and eosin stain. Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) was performed after the determined time point to observe the severity of compression of muscle scar against the injured spinal cord in both groups. The Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan score (BBB score) was used to evaluate the locomotor outcomes.
Results: The scar formed in the third week after the muscle was dissected. MRI in the fourth week after surgery indicated that the rats with muscle layer sutured experienced more severe compression against the spinal cord than those not sutured. The concave caused by muscle scars in the injured spinal cord tissue of the muscle layer sutured rats was more obvious than that in non-sutured ones. There were no statistically significant differences in the BBB score between the two groups (p>0.05).
Conclusion: The compression to the injured spinal cord caused by muscle scars after surgical procedures could be relieved if the muscle layer is not sutured, and this non-suturing management may makes it easy to evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic regimens in rat SCI models.