Convection-enhanced delivery into the rat brainstem

David I Sandberg, Mark A Edgar, Mark M Souweidane
Journal of Neurosurgery 2002, 96 (5): 885-91

OBJECT: Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) can be used safely to achieve high local infusate concentrations within the brain and spinal cord. The use of CED in the brainstem has not been previously reported and may offer an alternative method for treating diffuse pontine gliomas. In the present study the authors tested CED within the rat brainstem to assess its safety and establish distribution parameters.

METHODS: Eighteen rats underwent stereotactic cannula placement into the pontine nucleus oralis without subsequent infusions. Twenty rats underwent stereotactic cannula placement followed by infusion of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran at a constant rate (0.1 microl/minute) until various total volumes of infusion (V(i)s) were reached: 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 microl. Additional rats underwent FITC-dextran infusion (V, 4 microl) and were observed for 48 hours (five animals) or 14 days (five animals). Serial (20-microm thick) brain sections were imaged using confocal microscopy with ultraviolet illumination, and the volume of distribution (Vd) was calculated using computer image analysis. Histological analysis was performed on adjacent sections. No animal exhibited a postoperative neurological deficit, and there was no histological evidence of tissue disruption. The Vd increased linearly (range 15.4-55.8 mm3) along with increasing Vi, with statistically significant correlations for all groups that were compared (p < 0.022). The Va/Vi ratio ranged from 14 to 30.9. The maximum cross-sectional area of fluorescence (range 9.8-20.9 mm2) and the craniocaudal extent of fluorescence (range 2.8-5.1 mm) increased with increasing Vi.

CONCLUSIONS: Convection-enhanced delivery can be safely applied to the rat brainstem with substantial and predictable V(d)s. This study provides the basis for investigating delivery of various candidate agents for the treatment of diffuse pontine gliomas.

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