It is a common belief that neurosurgical interventions can cause inevitable damage resulting from the procedure itself in surgery especially for intramedullary spinal cord tumors. The present study was designed to examine if hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning (HBO-PC) was neuroprotective against surgical injuries using a rat model of spinal cord injury (SCI). Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups: HBO-PC group, hypobaric hypoxic preconditioning (HH-PC) control group, and normobaric control group. All groups were subjected to SCI by weight drop device. Rats from each group were examined for neurological behavior and electrophysiological function. Tissue sections were analyzed by using immunohistochemistry, TdT-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling, and axonal tract tracing. Significant neurological deficits were observed after SCI and HBO-PC and HH-PC improved neurological deficits 1 week post-injury. The latencies of motor-evoked potential and somatosensory-evoked potential were significantly delayed after SCI, which was attenuated by HBO-PC and HH-PC. Compared with normobaric control group, pretreatment with HBO and hypobaric hypoxia significantly reduced the number of TdT-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling-positive cells, and increased nestin-positive cells. HBO-PC and HH-PC enhanced axonal growth after SCI. In conclusion, preconditioning with HBO and hypobaric hypoxia can facilitate functional recovery and suppress cell apoptosis after SCI and may prove to be a useful preventive strategy to neurosurgical SCI.

Lu, Hu, Hu, Wu, Chen, Meng, Lin, Feng, (2012). Functional recovery in rat spinal cord injury induced by hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning. Neurological research, 2012 Dec;34(10):944-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23006818