Physiological and histopathological responses following closed rotational head injury depend on direction of head motion

Stephanie A. Eucker, Colin Smith, Jill Ralston, Stuart H. Friess, Susan S. Margulies

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87 Scopus citations


Rotational inertial forces are thought to be the underlying mechanism for most severe brain injuries. However, little is known about the effect of head rotation direction on injury outcomes, particularly in the pediatric population. Neonatal piglets were subjected to a single non-impact head rotation in the horizontal, coronal, or sagittal direction, and physiological and histopathological responses were observed. Sagittal rotation produced the longest duration of unconsciousness, highest incidence of apnea, and largest intracranial pressure increase, while coronal rotation produced little change, and horizontal rotation produced intermediate and variable derangements. Significant cerebral blood flow reductions were observed following sagittal but not coronal or horizontal injury compared to sham. Subarachnoid hemorrhage, ischemia, and brainstem pathology were observed in the sagittal and horizontal groups but not in a single coronal animal. Significant axonal injury occurred following both horizontal and sagittal rotations. For both groups, the distribution of injury was greater in the frontal and parietotemporal lobes than in the occipital lobes, frequently occurred in the absence of ischemia, and did not correlate with regional cerebral blood flow reductions. We postulate that these direction-dependent differences in injury outcomes are due to differences in tissue mechanical loading produced during head rotation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Animal models
  • Brain ischemia
  • Brain trauma
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Neuropathology
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage


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