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Long-term subarachnoid catheter placement in the middle cranial fossa of the rat


Research using rats sometimes requires long-term placement of catheters in the subarachnoid space, the cavity between the arachnoid mater and the pia mater in the brain. These catheters can be used to experimentally induce subarachnoid bleeding by injecting blood or to locally administer drugs or other substances. To date, published techniques for penetrating the subarachnoid space of small experimental animals require the use of inflexible or relatively inflexible catheters. These catheters typically consist of metal or stiff plastic and are used to access the occipital or frontal cranial cavity or to directly access the cisterna magna via the atlantooccipital membrane. However, inflexible catheters are not ideal for long-term placement in the subarachnoid space. In this paper, the authors describe a reliable procedure for long-term catheterization of the subarachnoid cavity of the rat. For this method, personnel insert the catheter and keep it in place in the rat's middle cranial cavity, in the vicinity of the cerebral arterial circle. This new approach allows personnel to repeatedly use the catheter for a period of at least 2 weeks. The catheter, which is well-tolerated by rats, can be used for administering saline solutions and for injecting blood that has not been treated with heparin into the subarachnoid space.

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Figure 4: Elevating the dura.
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Figure 8: After wound closure, the extracranial end of the catheter was placed above the wound.
Figure 9: Dye has been injected into the catheter.
Figure 10


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Correspondence to Angelika Ehlert or Bastian Tiemann.

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Ehlert, A., Tiemann, B., Elsner, J. et al. Long-term subarachnoid catheter placement in the middle cranial fossa of the rat. Lab Anim 39, 352–359 (2010).

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