A Model for Research on Penetrating Traumatic Brain Injuries
Book chapter, 2019

The animal model presented here produces high-speed penetrating traumatic brain injuries (pen-TBI) to simulate a form of neurotrauma that is severe and is the prevailing TBI in warzones and in areas with high incidence of violence. Commonly, these neurotraumas involve laceration of brain tissue, accompanying hemorrhage, edema, and inflammation. This also occurs in the pen-TBI model designed for rats that is presented here. During trauma, a probe, constructed in one single unit in aluminum and guided by a probe holder, is propelled by a lead bullet and penetrates at high speed into the brain parenchyma of the anesthetized animal. The animal’s head is held in position in a purposely built stereotactic frame. This frame can be adjusted in position relative the tip of the probe so that the tip of the probe is positioned on the exposed dura, using three orthogonally arranged horizontal slides. This procedure will facilitate high similarity in probe penetration location. By adjusting the air pressure in the air-driven accelerator used to accelerate the lead bullet, a large range of probe velocities can be achieved; 110 m/s probe velocity is commonly used. Several probe tip shapes are available for use in the pen-TBI model; pointy, blunt, and flat. The distance the probe penetrates the brain can be controlled. A typical distance is 5.5 mm, and this distance has been found to be almost independent of probe velocity and probe tip shape. After the probe has penetrated the animal, the pen-TBI device facilitates removal of the probe without causing additional brain damage. To do so, the animal is removed using the horizontal slider on the device that moves the animal’s head away from the probe in the direction of probe travel. The pen-TBI device is easy to operate and requires limited pre-trauma and post-trauma surgery. The device induces a small cavity, primary injury in a greater volume of the brain than the cavity and secondary injuries in an even greater volume that is several times that of the primary injury volume. The model appears to produce identical injuries in terms of appearance and dimensions in-between animals of same sex and body mass. The device also produces substantial but short-lived intracranial brain pressure changes, some 8-bar overpressure in the contralateral ventricle has been recorded, with high repeatability.




Traumatic brain injury (TBI)


Johan Davidsson

Injury Prevention

Karolinska Institutet

M Risling

Karolinska Institutet

Animal Models of Neurotrauma


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Other Medical Engineering

Anesthesiology and Intensive Care

Medical Equipment Engineering



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