How Reliable Is Pupillary Evaluation Following Subarachnoid Hemorrhage? Effect of Oculomotor Nerve Degeneration Secondary to Posterior Communicating Artery Vasospasm: First Experimental Study

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Abstract

Background and Study Aim Basic neurophysiologic principles of the light reflex are well known. However, the effects of degenerated axon densities of oculomotor nerves (OMNs) secondary to posterior communicating artery (PComA) vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) have not been investigated. Our aim was to study this subject.

Methods This study was conducted on 19 rabbits. There was a control group of five animals, a sham group of five animals in which saline was injected into the cisterna magna and a study group of nine animals in which homologous blood was injected into the cisterna magna. Pupillary diameters were measured for 1 week, then the animals were decapitated. The normal and degenerated axon densities of the OMNs were examined by stereological methods. Vasospasm indexes (VSIs) of posterior communicating arteries (PComAs) supplying OMNs were estimated and analyzed statistically.

Results The pupillary diameter was 5.439 ± 368 μm, and the mean axon density of the OMNs was 0.924 ± 324/mm3 in the control group. The pupillary diameter and degenerated axon density of the OMNs in animals of the sham group were 6.980 ± 0.370 μm and 36 ± 8/mm3, respectively. The pupillary diameter was 9.942 ± 653 μm, and degenerated axon density of the OMNs was 265 ± 57/mm3 in animals with SAH. The mean VSI values of PComAs were 0.927 ± 0.224 in the control group, 1.542 ± 0.257 in the sham group, and 2.321 ± 0.324 in the SAH group.

Conclusion We found a linear relationship between the axon density of the OMNs and pupillary diameters. High degenerated neuron density in the OMNs may be responsible for an unresponsive pupillary that has not been mentioned in the literature.

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