Craniectomy position affects morris water maze performance and hippocampal cell loss after parasagittal fluid percussion

Candace L. Floyd, Keith M. Golden, Raiford T. Black, Robert J. Hamm, Bruce G Lyeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Valid and reliable animal models are essential for mechanistic and therapeutic studies of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Therefore, model characterization is a continual and reciprocal process between the experimental laboratory and the clinic. Several excellent experimental models of TBI, including the lateral fluid percussion rat model, are currently in wide use in many neurotrauma laboratories. However, small differences in the position of lateral fluid percussion craniectomy are reported between labs. Additionally, differences in hippocampal cell death have also been reported. Therefore, we hypothesized that small changes in craniectomy position could affect commonly used outcome measures such as vestibulomotor function, Morris water maze (MWM) performance, hippocampal cell loss, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunoreactivity. Four placements were systematically manipulated: rostral, caudal, medial, and lateral. The medial and caudal placements produced significantly greater impairments in the MWM acquisition task over the lateral and rostral placements. The rostral placement produced diffuse cortical damage but little hippocampal cell loss. In contrast, the medial, lateral, and caudal placements produced more mid-dorsally localized cortical damage and significant cell loss in the CA2/CA3 and hilus ipsilateral to the injury site. Furthermore, reactive astrocytosis was more pronounced in the medial, lateral, and caudal placements than in the rostral placement. All craniectomy position groups had similar durations of traumatic unconsciousness and similar impairment on motor tasks. We conclude that small alterations in craniectomy position produce differences in cognitive performance, hippocampal cell loss, and reactive astrocytosis but not in motor performance nor transient unconsciousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-316
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Animal models
  • Cell death
  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)
  • Reactive astrocytes
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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