A severe traumatic injury to a peripheral nerve often requires surgical graft repair. However, functional recovery after these surgical repairs is often unsatisfactory. To improve interventional procedures, it is important to understand the regeneration of the nerve grafts. The rodent sciatic nerve is commonly used to investigate these parameters. However, the ability to longitudinally assess the reinnervation of injured nerves are limited, and to our knowledge, no methods currently exist to investigate the timing of the revascularization in functional recovery.
In this work, we describe the development and use of angiographic and polarization-sensitive (PS) optical coherence tomography (OCT) to visualize the vascularization, demyelination and remyelination of peripheral nerve healing after crush and transection injuries, and across a variety of graft repair methods. A microscope was customized to provide 3.6 cm fields of view along the nerve axis with a capability to track the nerve height to maintain the nerve within the focal plane. Motion artifact rejection was implemented in the angiography algorithm to reduce degradation by bulk respiratory motion in the hindlimb site. Vectorial birefringence imaging methods were developed to significantly enhance the accuracy of myelination measurements and to discriminate birefringent contributions from the myelin and epineurium. These results demonstrate that the OCT platform has the potential to reveal new insights in preclinical studies and may ultimately provide a means for clinical intra-surgical assessment of peripheral nerve function.
Ahhyun S. Nam, Isabel Chico-Calero, Jeena M. Easow, Martin Villiger, Jonathan Welt, Jonathan M. Winograd, Mark A. Randolph, Robert W. Redmond, and Benjamin J. Vakoc, "Assessment of vascularization and myelination following peripheral nerve repair using angiographic and polarization sensitive optical coherence tomography (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10053, Optical Coherence Tomography and Coherence Domain Optical Methods in Biomedicine XXI, 100530M (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 31, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2254910.5371723136001.
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