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Effects of high-peak pulsed electromagnetic field on the degeneration and regeneration of the common peroneal nerve in rats

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Apart from preliminary notices of present work, previous reports of experimental and clinical trials of the effects of a high-peak pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) on degeneration and regeneration of peripheral nerves lacked statistical analysis. Therefore, we designed experiments with standardised operative, histological, cytological and morphometric techniques to assess the effect of PEMF on lesions of the common peroneal nerves in paired male rats matched for age, environmental conditions and level and type of lesion. One of two types of lesion was induced in the left common peroneal nerve: in 12 pairs of rats the nerve was crushed just above the knee and in the remaining 12 pairs the nerve was cut and immediately sutured at the same level. The right common peroneal nerve of each rat served as a control. Animals received 15 minutes of PEMF produced by a Diapulse machine or sham treatment daily for periods ranging from three and a half days to eight weeks after injury. Healthy nerves were unaffected, but after damage there were statistically significant differences between PEMF treated and sham treated rats. PEMF accelerated the recovery of injured limbs and the degeneration, regeneration and maturation of myelinated axons; epineural, perineural and intraneural fibrosis was reduced; and the luminal cross-sectional area of intraneural vessels increased after both types of lesion. Findings are discussed and the need for clinical trials is stressed.

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