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Original research
Angiographic investigation of orbital vascular variations in the rabbit and implications for endovascular intra-arterial chemotherapy models
  1. Michael T Froehler1,
  2. Michael J Feldman1,2,
  3. Bryan Poitras1,3,
  4. Anthony B Daniels4
  1. 1Cerebrovascular Program, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  2. 2Neurosurgery Department, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  3. 3Radiology Department, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  4. 4Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael T Froehler, Cerebrovascular, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville TN 37232, USA; m.froehler{at}


Background The New Zealand White rabbit (NZWR) is the first small-animal experimental model of intra-arterial chemotherapy (IAC) for retinoblastoma treatment. The NZWR has dual ophthalmic arteries (OA): the external OA (EOA) arises from the external carotid artery and the internal OA (IOA) from the internal carotid artery. We describe the technique that we have refined for OA catheterization in rabbits, and describe the angioanatomical variations in the OA supply to the NZWR eye and implications for IAC delivery, which were identified as part of a larger project exploring IAC effects in a rabbit retinoblastoma model.

Methods We developed techniques to perform angiography of the external and internal carotid arteries and superselective angiography of the EOA and IOA in NZWR using transfemoral access and a microwire/microcatheter system. EOA and IOA supply to the eye was determined angiographically and recorded before selective OA catheterization and angiography.

Results 114 rabbits underwent carotid angiographic evaluation and OA catheterization (161 total eyes evaluated, 112 right, 49 left). Most eyes had a single dominant arterial supply; either IOA or EOA. EOA was dominant in 73% (118/161), and IOA was dominant in 17% (27/161). Co-dominant supply was seen in 10% (16/161). Of the rabbits with bilateral OA catheterization, 25/47 (53%) had bilateral dominant EOA.

Conclusion Successful catheterization of the OA in the NZWR can be readily accomplished with nuanced technique. The external OA is the dominant arterial supply in the majority of NZWR eyes. These findings allow for successful reproduction of OA catheterization studies of IAC for retinoblastoma in NZWR.

  • pediatrics
  • technique
  • tumor

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  • Presented at Portions of this work were presented at the International Society of Ocular Oncology Meetings in 2017 and 2019, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meetings in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and the Macula Society Annual Meeting in 2018.

  • Contributors Designed the study (MTF, ABD), performed the experiments (MTF, ABD), analyzed the data (MTF, MJF), prepared the manuscript (MTF, MJF, ABD).

  • Funding This work was supported by the National Eye Institute grant NIH/NEI 5K08EY027464-02 [ABD], by a Career Development Award from the Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation [ABD], by a Career Starter Grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation [ABD], by the Vanderbilt Faculty Research Scholars program [ABD], and by an unrestricted departmental grant from Research to Prevent Blindness to the Vanderbilt Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

  • Competing interests ABD has a patent with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. ABD has received an Alcon Research Institute Young Investigator Award unrelated to the material presented in this manuscript and has received research funding from Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc through an investigator-initiated study separate from the data presented in this manuscript. MTF is a consultant for Genentech, Medtronic, Stryker, Balt USA,, and Corindus, and receives research funding from NIH, Genentech, Medtronic, Stryker, Microvention, and Penumbra. BLP is a clinical account specialist for Cerenovus. None of the other authors has any conflicts of interest or financial disclosures.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval All procedures were performed under the auspices of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and adhered to the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) statement for the Use of Animals in Ophthalmic and Vision research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Data readily available from corresponding author upon request.

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