Histopathology of experimental hematomyelia

T. H. Milhorat, D. E. Adler, I. M. Heger, J. I. Miller, J. R. Hollenberg-Sher

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24 Scopus citations


The pathology of hematomyelia was examined in 35 rats following the stereotactic injection of 2 μl blood into the dorsal columns of the thoracic spinal cord. This experimental model produced a small ball-hemorrhage without associated neurological deficits or significant tissue injury. Histological sections of the whole spinal cord were studied at intervals ranging from 2 hours to 4 months after injection. In acute experiments (2 to 6 hours postinjection), blood was sometimes seen within the lumen of the central canal extending rostrally to the level of the fourth ventricle. Between 24 hours and 3 days, the parenchymal hematoma became consolidated and there was an intense proliferation of microglial cells at the perimeter of the lesion. The cells invaded the hematoma, infiltrated its core, and removed erythrocytes by phagocytosis. Rostral to the lesion, the lumen of the central canal was found to contain varying amounts of fibrin, proteinaceous material, and cellular debris for up to 15 days. These findings were much less prominent in the segments of the canal caudal to the lesion. Healing of the parenchymal hematoma was usually complete within 4 to 6 weeks except for residual hemosiderin-laden microglial cells and focal gliosis at the lesion site. It is concluded that the clearance of atraumatic hematomyelia probably involves two primary mechanisms: 1) phagocytosis of the focal hemorrhage by microglial cells; and 2) drainage of blood products in a rostral direction through the central canal of the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-915
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • astrogliosis
  • hematomyelia
  • intramedullary hemorrhage
  • microglial cell
  • rat
  • spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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