Ischaemic preconditioning is a process by which exposure of a tissue to a short period of non-damaging ischaemic stress leads to resistance to the deleterious effects of a subsequent prolonged ischaemic stress. It has been extensively described in the heart, but few studies have examined the possibility that it can occur in skeletal muscle. We have used a rat model of ischaemia of one limb to examine this possibility. Exposure of the hind limb to a period of ischaemia of five minutes and reperfusion for five minutes significantly protected the tibialis anterior muscle against the structural damage induced by a subsequent period of limb ischaemia for four hours and reperfusion for one hour. This protection was evident on examination of the muscle by both light and electron microscopy. Longer or shorter times of prior ischaemia had no effect.
- Received August 5, 1998.
- Accepted November 2, 2001.
- © 2002 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery