It is a well-established fact that peripheral nerves, if they are to remain in a proper functional state, require a continuous and adequate supply of oxygen.1-4 As a consequence, temporary or permanent interference with the microcirculation of peripheral nerves might be expected to disturb nerve function. Ischemia to extremities can occur in various situations: routine surgical procedures performed in a blood-free field under the influence of a pneumatic cuff; trauma involving injury to major vessels.
An experimental study was designed to analyze the pathophysiologic mechanisms in the development of nerve lesions after prolonged ischemia.5 In anesthetized rabbits, ischemia for various periods was induced by a pneumatic cuff around the hind leg. In the postischemic phase the restitution of intraneural microvascular flow was determined with a microscopic technique, allowing analysis of blood flow patterns in the living animal. Ischemic injury to the vessel walls resulting in increased permeability was