Biomechanical Properties of Live Rat Brain Following Traumatic Brain Injury
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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has a 20% mortality rate and a 10-15% rate of resultant permanent disability. The consequences of TBI range from brief loss of consciousness, to prolonged coma or death. Mild TBI is amongst the common causes of admission to trauma centers all over the world. Future technologies such as magnetic resonance elastography and robotic surgery demand information about the physical properties of brain tissue. Walsh and Schettini described the mechanical behavior of brain tissue under normal status as nonlinear viscoelastic behavior and defined the associated biomechanical changes and responses in a quantitative measurement of the material changes. Yet, there is still a lack of data concerning time-dependent deformation and mechanical property changes associated with TBI. My goal in this project was to describe these mechanical responses and to create a system for measuring and evaluating the mechanical response of brain tissue in vivo. This was to be achieved by inducing cortical contusions with a calibrated weight-drop method in seventy-four young adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Instrumented indentation was performed on control brains and 1 hour to 3 weeks after contusion with intact dura using a 4-mm-diameter flat punch indenter to a maximum depth of 1.2 mm at loading. Loading rates did not exceed 0.34 N/min and 1.2 mm/min. In order to obtain force displacement data, we studied the elastic response of the traumatized brain tissue and the deformation process (creep) during the loading and unloading of indenter. After euthanasia, the brain was removed and evaluated histologically with different methods to reveal acute and chronic changes related to the contusion. The results revealed that the biomechanical properties of the brain tissue were changed after cortical contusion. Brain tissue elasticity decreased in the edematous brain at one day following the contusion and increased at 3 weeks, in association with reactive astroglial changes. This experimental technique, combined with mathematical modeling, might eventually lead to a better understanding of the physical changes in brain following TBI.
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