Ultrasound accelerates functional recovery after peripheral nerve damage

Pierre D. Mourad*, Daniel A. Lazar, Francesco P. Curra, Brandt C. Mohr, Kathleen C. Andrus, Anthony M. Avellino, Lawrence D. McNutt, Lawrence A. Crum, Michel Kliot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Axonal injury in the peripheral nervous system is common, and often it is associated with severe long-term personal and societal costs. The objective of this study is to use an animal model to demonstrate that transcutaneous ultrasound can accelerate recovery from an axonotmetic injury. METHODS: The sciatic nerve of adult male Lewis rats was crushed in the right midthigh to cause complete distal degeneration of axons yet maintain continuity of the nerve. Beginning 3 days after surgery, various transcutaneous ultrasound treatments or sham treatments were applied 3 days per week for 30 days to the crush site of rats that were randomly assigned to two groups. In the preliminary experiments, there were three animals in each ultrasound group and two control animals. In the final experiment, there were 22 animals in the ultrasound group and 20 animals in the control group. Recovery was assessed by use of a toe spread assay to quantify a return to normal foot function in the injured leg. Equipment included a hand-held transducer that emitted continuous-wave ultrasound. The most successful ultrasound protocol had a spatial peak, time-averaged intensity of 0.25 W/cm2 operated at 2.25 MHz for 1 minute per application. RESULTS: Rats subjected to the most successful ultrasound protocol showed a statistically significant acceleration of foot function recovery starting 14 days after injury versus 18 days for the control group. Full recovery by the ultrasound group occurred before full recovery by the control group. CONCLUSION: Transcutaneous ultrasound applied to an animal model of axonotmetic injury accelerated recovery. Future studies should focus on identification of the mechanism(s) by which ultrasound creates this effect, as a prelude to optimization of the protocol, demonstration of its safety, and its eventual application to humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1136-1141
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Functional recovery
  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • Therapeutic ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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