Skip to main content


Log in

Technical pitfalls in a porcine brain retraction model

The impact of brain spatula on the retracted brain tissue in a porcine model: a feasibility study and its technical pitfalls

  • Diagnostic Neuroradiology
  • Published:
Neuroradiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript


We describe technical pitfalls of a porcine brain injury model for identifying primary and secondary pathological sequelae following brain retraction by brain spatula. In 16 anaesthetised male pigs, the right frontal brain was retracted in the interhemispheric fissure by a brain spatulum with varying pressures applied by the gravitational force of weights from 10 to 70 g for a duration of 30 min. The retracted brain tissue was monitored for changes in intracranial pressure and perfusion of the cortex using a Laser Doppler Perfusion Imager (MoorLDI). To evaluate the extent of oedema and cortical contusions, MRI was performed 30 min and 72 h after brain retraction. Following the MR scan, the retracted brain areas were histopathologically assessed using H&E and Fluoro-Jade B staining for neuronal damage. Sinus occlusion occurred in four animals, resulting in bilateral cortical contusions and extensive brain oedema. Retracting the brain with weights of 70 g (n=4) caused extensive oedema on FLAIR images that correlated clinically with a hemiparesis in three animals. Morphologically, an increased number of Fluoro-Jade B-positive neurons were found. A sequential decrease in weights prevented functional deficits in animals. A retraction pressure applied by 10-g weights (n=7) caused a mean rise in intracranial pressure to 4.0±3.1 mm Hg, and a decrement in mean cortical perfusion from 740.8±41.5 to 693.8±72.4 PU/cm² (P<0.24). A meticulous dissection of the interhemispheric fissure and a reduction of weights to 10 g were found to be mandatory to study the cortical impact caused by brain spatula reproducibly.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Andrews RJ, Muto RP (1992) Retraction brain ischemia: cerebral blood flow, evoked potentials, hypotension and hyperventilation in a new animal model. Neurol Res 14:12–18

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Andrews RJ, Bringas JR (1993) A review of brain retraction and recommendations for minimizing intraoperative brain injury. Neurosurgery 33:1052–1064

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Houkin K, Takahashi A, Abe H (1994) Proper usage of brain retractors on interhemispheric fissure, based on MRI microanatomy: technical note. Surg Neurol 41:16–18

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Küker W, Thiex R, Rohde I, Rohde V, Thron A (2000) Experimental acute intracerebral hemorrhage—value of MR sequences for a safe diagnosis at 1.5 and 0.5T. Acta Radiol 41:544–552

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Park HK, Fernandez I, Dujovny M, Diaz FG (1999) Experimental animal models of traumatic brain injury: medical and biomechanical mechanism. Crit Rev Neurosurg 9:44–52

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Rosenorn J (1987) Self-retaining brain retractor pressure during intracranial procedures. Acta Neurochir 85:17–22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Rosenorn J, Diemer NH (1987) The influence of the profile of brain retractors on regional cerebral blood flow in the rat. Acta Neurochir 87:140–143

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Rosenorn J, Diemer NH (1988) The influence of intermittent versus continuous brain retractor pressure on regional cerebral blood flow and neuropathology in the rat. Acta Neurochir 93:13–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Rosenorn J (1989) The risk of ischaemic brain damage during the use of self-retaining brain retractors. Acta Neurol Scand Suppl 120:1–30

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Schmued LC, Hopkins KJ (2000) Fluoro-Jade B: a high affinity fluorescent marker for the localization of neuronal degeneration. Brain Res 874:123–130

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Sloniewski P, Zielinski P (1997) Remote effect of brain retraction on regional blood flow and cerebrovascular reserve on single photon emission computed tomography. Surg Neurol 48:511–513

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Sugita K, Kobayashi S, Takemae T et al (1980) Direct retraction method in aneurysm surgery. Technical note. J Neurosurg 53:417–419

    Google Scholar 

  13. Thiex R, Küker W, Müller HD, Rohde I, Schröder JM, Gilsbach JM, Rohde V (2003) The long-term effect of recombinant tissue-plasminogen-activator (rt-PA) on edema formation in a large-animal model of intracerebral hemorrhage. Neurol Res 25:254–262

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Waring AJ, Houseworth CM, Voorhies RM et al (1990) A prototype retractor system designed to minimize ischemic brain retractor injury: initial observations. Surg Neurol 34:139–143

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Xu W, Mellegard P, Ungerstedt U, Nordström CH (2002) Local changes in cerebral energy metabolism due to brain retraction during routine neurosurgical procedures. Acta Neurochir 144:679–683

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Yokoh A, Sugita K, Kobayashi S (1987) Clinical study of brain retraction in different approaches and diseases. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 87:134–139

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Yundt KD, Grubb RL, Diringer MN, Powers W (1997) Cerebral hemodynamic and metabolic changes caused by brain retraction after aneurysmal subarachnoidal hemorrhage. Neurosurgery 40:442–450

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank Dr. Juri Albrecht, Marcel Vierkötter, Niclas Puschner and Claudia Krude for their technical assistance and help and gratefully acknowledge the support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in cooperation with the Deutsches Luft- und Raumfahrtszentrum (DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen, Professor Hirzinger, Dr. Hagn, Dr. Liu), START program at Aachen University and Tumorforschung Kopf-Hals.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to R. Thiex.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Thiex, R., Hans, F.J., Krings, T. et al. Technical pitfalls in a porcine brain retraction model . Neuroradiology 47, 765–773 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: