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Abstract

Isometric tetanic muscle force has been described in a rat model to evaluate motor recovery in a segmental sciatic nerve defect reconstructions. However, to test longer nerve defects, an alternative and larger animal model is necessary. The purpose of this study is to describe and validate a technique for isometric force measurement of the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle in New Zealand rabbits. Muscle preload and electrical stimulation parameters were optimized to obtain the highest tetanic contraction bilaterally in 10 animals. Electrophysiology, muscle weight, peroneal nerve length, and histomorphometry were also analyzed. Only the peroneal nerve length and the ratio of highest muscle force/muscle weight demonstrated the equivalence between the sides. A small variability of TA muscle force and TA muscle weight was observed between the sides suggesting dominance. Optimization of electrical stimulation and preload as well as the use of correct anesthesia were fundamental to acquire the highest muscle force. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Microsurgery, 2012