The Ferret as an Animal Model in Cerebrovascular Research

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Clinical and pathologic observations have suggested analogies between the developing nervous system of ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) and those of more traditional animal models employed in stroke research. Experimental work has demonstrated advantages of the ferret as a model of visual development. We performed in vivo cerebral angiography and postmortem neurovascular dissection of latex-injected specimens of adult ferrets. The great vessels include a cervical arterial trunk that gives rise to both carotid arteries. The anatomy of the cranial arteries is similar to that of rabbits. No carotid rete mirabile is present. There are no intracranial anastomoses between the external and internal carotid systems. We present in vivo cerebral angiograms with pathologic correlation that demonstrate that ferrets may provide the same anatomic advantages as a rabbit model for the experimental study of cerebrovascular disease, with the additional advantage of a long extracranial cervical segment of the carotid artery, affording easier access to the intracranial vasculature.

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