Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Anesthesiology. 2000 Nov;93(5):1294-302; discussion 6A.

Alterations in ascending dorsal horn neurons by a surgical incision in the rat foot.

Author information

Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1079, USA.



Little is known about the mechanisms of pain caused by a surgical incision. The authors have developed a rat model of postoperative pain characterized by decreased withdrawal thresholds to punctate mechanical stimuli after plantar incision. The present studies examined the response characteristics of dorsal horn neurons receiving input from the plantar aspect of the foot before and after a plantar incision placed adjacent to the low threshold area of the receptive field (RF).


Individual dorsal horn neurons from the lumbar enlargement were antidromically identified and characterized as low threshold, wide dynamic range (WDR), and high threshold (HT) based on their responses to brush and pinch. Thresholds (in millinewtons), the pinch RF, and stimulus-response functions (SRFs) to von Frey filaments characterized the neurons. SRFs were analyzed using area under the curve. Changes in background activity, punctate mechanical thresholds, SRFs, and RF were recorded after an incision was made adjacent to the most sensitive area of the RF.


In all cells, an incision increased background activity; this remained elevated in 3 of 9 HT and 16 of 28 WDR neurons 1 h later. The SRFs were enhanced in 10 of 27 WDR neurons and in 2 of 8 HT cells after incision. Only the WDR neurons were responsive to filaments that produced withdrawal responses after incision in behavioral experiments. Increases in the RFs outside of the injured area occurred after incision in 15 of 29 WDR and 2 of 9 HT cells.


A plantar incision caused dorsal horn cell activation and central sensitization. Because the threshold of HT neurons did not decrease to the range of the withdrawal responses in behavioral experiments, particular WDR dorsal horn neurons likely contribute to the reduced withdrawal threshold observed in behavioral experiments. Both WDR and HT neurons are capable of transmitting enhanced responses to strong punctate mechanical stimuli after incision.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
    Loading ...
    Support Center