IMR Press / JIN / Volume 19 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2020.01.1153
Open Access Review
Microneurosurgical techniques and perioperative strategies utilized to optimize experimental supracollicular decerebration in rats
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1 United States Environmental Protection Agency, Arlington, Virginia, 22202, USA
2 Department of Toxicology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 47907, USA
3 Department of Neurological Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, 77030, USA
4 Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19129, USA
*Correspondence: (Michael George Zaki Ghali)
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2020, 19(1), 137–177;
Submitted: 14 August 2019 | Accepted: 28 January 2020 | Published: 30 March 2020
Copyright: © 2020 Ghali and Ghali. Published by IMR press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license (

Decerebration permits neurophysiological experimentation absent the confounding effects of anesthesia. Use of the unanesthetized decerebrate preparation in vivo offers several advantages compared with recordings performed in reduced slice preparations, providing the capacity to perform extracellular and intracellular neuronal recordings in the presence of an intact brainstem network. The decerebration procedure typically generates variable degrees of blood loss, which often compromises the hemodynamic stability of the preparation. We describe our microsurgical techniques and discuss microsurgical pearls utilized in order to consistently generate normotensive supracollicularly decerebrate preparations of the rat, exhibiting an augmenting pattern of phrenic nerve discharge. In brief, we perform bilateral ligation of the internal carotid arteries, biparietal craniectomies, securing of the superior sagittal sinus to the overlying strip of bone, removal of the median strip of bone overlying the superior sagittal sinus, supracollicular decerebrative encephalotomy, removal of the cerebral hemispheres, and packing of the anterior and middle cranial fossae with thrombin soaked gelfoam sponges. Hypothermia and potent inhalational anesthesia ensure neuroprotection during postdecerebrative neurogenic shock. Advantages of our approach include a bloodless and fast operation with a nil percent rate of operative mortality. We allow animal arterial pressure to recover gradually in parallel with gentle weaning of anesthesia following decerebration, performed contemporaneously with the provision of the neuromuscular antagonist vecuronium. Anesthetic weaning and institution of vecuronium should be contemporaneous, coordinate, gentle, gradual, and guided by the spontaneous recovery of the arterial blood pressure. We describe our microsurgical techniques and perioperative management strategy designed to achieve decerebration and accordingly survey the literature on techniques used across several studies in achieving these goals.

Figure 1.
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