A brief period of tourniquet ischemia can produce a significant loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength

R. C. Carlsen, R. Sharman, T. Whetzel, Thomas R Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Even brief (15min) interruptions of muscle blood flow can produce ultrastructural damage in skeletal muscle. The extent of damage increases as the duration of ischemia increases and recovery may be slow and incomplete. We investigated the damage produced in adult rat skeletal muscle by varying periods of tourniquet ischemia followed by reperfusion. We also investigated the time course and extent of recovery of mass and strength in the ischemic muscles. The rat hindlimb was made ischemic using an inflatable cuff placed around the upper thigh. Hindlimb ischemia was maintained in the anesthetized rat for 1, 2 or 3 hours. The structural and functional properties of the ankle flexor muscle, tibialis anterior, were assessed 1, 3, 7 or 14 days after ischemia. Ischemic muscles exhibited a significant decrease in mass and contractile strength that was apparent within 3 days of ischemia and persisted for 14 days. The magnitude of the deficit was proportional to the duration of ischemia, but even muscles subjected to 1 hour of ischemia showed a significant loss of mass and strength. Neuromuscular transmission was depressed in all ischemic muscles 1 day after ischemia. Transmission recovered in the 1 hour ischemic muscles by 3 days, but was still reduced at 7 days in the 2hr and 3 hr muscles. Maximum nerve conduction velocity in the sciatic nerve was not affected by ischemic periods as long as 3 hours, indicating that large, myelinated peripheral nerves are more resistant to ischemia than are skeletal muscle fibers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 20 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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