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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Feb 1;27(3):E56-63.

Electrophysiologic evidence for an intersegmental reflex pathway between lumbar paraspinal tissues.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Iowa and the Iowa Spine Research Center, Iowa City, USA.

Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

Electrophysiologic recordings were obtained from a lumbar paraspinal nerve or muscle in the anesthetized cat while electrically stimulating a paraspinal nerve or facet capsule in an adjacent lumbar segment. A variety of approaches were used to demonstrate the reflex nature of both the nerve and the muscle response.

OBJECTIVE:

The primary purpose of this study was to seek electrophysiologic evidence for the presence of intersegmental reflexes between adjacent lumbar vertebral segments. A second purpose of this study was to confirm a previous procedure used to evoke paraspinal reflexes. This previous work had shown that electrical stimulation of the L1-L2 facet joint capsule elicits electromyographic activity from multifidus muscle one to two vertebral segments caudal to the stimulated facet in a porcine preparation.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:

Biomechanical approaches have stressed the need for spinal stability to avoid conditions that could give rise to low back dysfunction. It seems reasonable to believe that reflex interactions between vertebral segments contribute to the sensorimotor integration of lumbar paraspinal tissues. It also seems reasonable to believe that alterations or abnormal elicitation of these reflexes could contribute to biomechanical changes associated with low back pain and paraspinal muscle spasm.

METHODS:

Experiments were performed on 23 alpha-chloralose anesthetized adult cats. In eight cats the L3, L4, and L5 medial branch from each dorsal ramus was exposed and placed on a bipolar hook electrode. In six cats the L4 medial branch was stimulated and a compound action potential was recorded from the L3 medial branch. In three of the six cats the L5 medial branch was stimulated and a compound action potential was recorded from the L3 medial branch. In one cat the L4 medial branch was stimulated and a compound action potential was recorded from the L5 medial branch. In one cat the L3 medial branch was stimulated and a compound action potential was recorded from the L5 medial branch. At the end of each protocol the medial branch was cut just proximal to the stimulating electrode to confirm that the compound action potential was reflexive in nature and not initiated by volume conduction. In 15 cats three approaches were used to confirm that multifidus electromyographic activity evoked by electrical stimulation of a lumbar facet capsule was reflexive in nature: 1) by anesthetizing the site of the sensory endings, i.e., the facet capsule, 2) by injecting lidocaine intrathecally to block neural conduction centrally, i.e., within the spinal canal, or 3) by cutting the afferent pathway, i.e., the medial branch of the dorsal ramus.

RESULTS:

Electrical stimulation of the medial branch of the dorsal ramus innervating the medial-most lumbar paraspinal tissues evoked a compound action potential in the medial branch innervating the medial-most paraspinal tissues one and two segments away. Stimulating voltages between 2 and 70 V were necessary to evoke the compound action potential. Each compound action potential was reflexive in nature because cutting the lumbar medial branch proximal to its contact with the stimulating electrode abolished each compound action potential. The conduction velocity of the reflex ranged from 3.5 to 6.1 m/sec. Electrical stimulation of a lumbar facet capsule evoked lumbar multifidus muscle electromyographic activity. However, injecting lidocaine intrathecally or transecting the medial branch of the dorsal ramus had no effect on electromyographic activity. Injecting lidocaine into the facet or into the multifidus muscle around the facet joint (near the stimulating electrode) significantly decreased the magnitude of the multifidus electromyography.

CONCLUSION:

These results indicate that afferent impulses conveyed by the medial branch of the dorsal ramus reflexly altered efferent activity to an adjacent lumbar segment. This intersegmental paraspinal reflex may span at least one or two vertebral segments. The data suggest that electrical stimulation of the facet joint capsule may not have reflexly elicited multifidus activity because neither chemical interruption (intrathecal lidocaine) nor physical interruption (nerve transection) of the presumed reflex pathway diminished or abolished the electromyographic response. Volume conduction of the stimulating currents likely elicited multifidus activity during electrical stimulation of the facet capsule. When using electrical stimulation of neural paraspinal tissues to evoke reflex muscle activity, appropriate control experiments must be performed to clearly demonstrate the reflexive nature of the response.

PMID:
11805709
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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