Currently, in vitro models of vasospasm remain inferior to in vivo models, and their use is limited to specific goals, such as physiologic studies of electron channels and screening of potentially favorable treatments. Among animal models, small species, such as mice, rats, and rabbits, because of their availability and low cost, are ideal for screening for novel therapeutics and testing physiologic variables, but monkeys, which are phylogenetically closest to humans, should be studied before experimental treatments are applied to humans.

Most animal models used to study vasospasm employ either blood injection/blood clot placement techniques or vessel puncture/avulsion techniques to induce SAH and vasospasm. Injection/clot placement techniques are preferable. These techniques are easy to perform in most species, result in significant and consistent vessel narrowing, and are associated with decreased animal morbidity and mortality. Vessel puncture/avulsion techniques are less appealing due to high mortality rates. The selection of one technique over another must be made according to the experimental question to be addressed.

The use of extracranial arteries to study cerebral vasospasm remains controversial. Intracra-nial vessels are favored because blood breakdown products remain in the CSF for longer periods than they do in the soft tissues, neural regulation of arterial tone differs between intracranial and extracranial vessels, and immunologic responses in the brain are modulated through central nervous system-specific pathways.

The most common endpoint in animal models of vasospasm is vessel narrowing, determined by either morphometric or angiographic vessel diameter. Among all animal models, the rabbit and monkey models are currently the best models of SAH and vasospasm.

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