CC BY 4.0 · J Brachial Plex Peripher Nerve Inj 2022; 17(01): e22-e29
DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-1747959
Original Contribution

A Rabbit Model for Peripheral Nerve Reconstruction Studies Avoiding Automutilation Behavior

Jonathan A. Sorkin*
1   Research Center for Nerve Reconstruction, Department of Neurosurgery, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
Ziv Rechany*
1   Research Center for Nerve Reconstruction, Department of Neurosurgery, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
Mara Almog
1   Research Center for Nerve Reconstruction, Department of Neurosurgery, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
Nina Dietzmeyer
3   Institute of Neuroanatomy and Cell Biology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
4   Center for Systems Neuroscience (ZSN), Hannover, Germany
Yuval Shapira
2   Division of Peripheral Nerve Reconstruction, Department of Neurosurgery, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Kirsten Haastert-Talini
3   Institute of Neuroanatomy and Cell Biology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
4   Center for Systems Neuroscience (ZSN), Hannover, Germany
1   Research Center for Nerve Reconstruction, Department of Neurosurgery, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
2   Division of Peripheral Nerve Reconstruction, Department of Neurosurgery, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
› Author Affiliations
Funding This study was supported by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development, grant number: G-1350-409.10/2016


Background The rabbit sciatic nerve injury model may represent a valuable alternative for critical gap distance seen in humans but often leads to automutilation. In this study, we modified the complete sciatic nerve injury model for avoiding autophagy.

Materials and Methods In 20 adult female New Zealand White rabbits, instead of transecting the complete sciatic nerve, we unilaterally transected the tibial portion and preserved the peroneal portion. Thereby loss of sensation in the dorsal aspect of the paw was avoided. The tibial portion was repaired in a reversed autograft approach in a length of 2.6 cm. In an alternative repair approach, a gap of 2.6 cm in length was repaired with a chitosan-based nerve guide.

Results During the 6-month follow-up period, there were no incidents of autotomy. Nerve regeneration of the tibial portion of the sciatic nerve was evaluated histologically and morphometrically. A clear difference between the distal segments of the healthy contralateral and the repaired tibial portion of the sciatic nerve was detectable, validating the model.

Conclusion By transecting the isolated tibial portion of the rabbit sciatic nerve and leaving the peroneal portion intact, it was possible to eliminate automutilation behavior.

* Equally contributed.

Publication History

Received: 06 March 2021

Accepted: 08 June 2021

Article published online:
21 June 2022

© 2022. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, permitting unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction so long as the original work is properly cited. (

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