This study was designed to examine the effects of electroacupuncture with direct current (DC) on peripheral nerve regeneration. The left sciatic nerve of 55 7-month-old rats was crushed at the thigh. They were ramdomly allocated to four groups: distal cathode DC group (n=15), distal anode DC group (n=14), sham operated group (n=13), and control group (n=13). In the distal cathode DC group, a cathode electrode was connected to an insulated acupuncture needle inserted at 1 cm distal to the injured site, while an anode electrode was connected to a needle inserted at 1 cm proximal to the lesion. In the distal anode DC group, the anode and the cathode electrode were connected to the needle at 1cm distal and proximal to the lesion respectively. In the sham operated group, no electrical stimulation was given to the insulated needle inserted at the same site, and in the control group, no treatment was given. Regeneration of the sciatic nerve was evaluated by the number of evoked EMGs recorded at 12 sites in the plantar region, by their latency, and by the weight ratio of the tibialis anterior at four weeks after the crush injury. Regeneration of the peripheral nerve was faster and more accelerated in the distal cathode DC group than in the other groups, while in the distal anode DC group the regeneration was delayed. This result suggested electroacupuncture with cathode distal orientation might be a useful treatment having the advantage of enabling deeper insertion with minimal tissue damage.
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