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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2010 Oct 15;35(22):2004-14. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181d4164d.

Pathomechanisms of sciatica in lumbar disc herniation: effect of periradicular adhesive tissue on electrophysiological values by an intraoperative straight leg raising test.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of Fukui, Fukui, Japan.



This study is aimed to investigate the changes of nerve root functions during the straight leg raising (SLR) test in vivo.


To investigate the relationship between nerve root movement and the electrophysiological values during an intraoperative SLR test.


The SLR test is one of the most significant signs for making a clinical diagnosis of lumbar disc herniation. A recent study showed that intraradicular blood flow apparently decreased during the SLR test in patients with disc herniation.


The study included 32 patients who underwent microdiscectomy. During the surgery, the nerve root motion affected by the hernia was observed during the SLR test. The patients' legs were allowed to hang down to the angle at which sciatica had occurred and the change of nerve root action potentials was measured. After removal of the hernia, a similar procedure was repeated. The periradicular specimens collected during surgery were examined by light and electron microscope.


In all patients intraoperative microscopy revealed that the hernia was adherent to the dura mater of the nerve roots. During the SLR test, the limitation of nerve root movement occurred by periradicular adhesive tissue and amplitude of action potential showed a sharp decrease at the angle that produced sciatica. After removal of the hernia, all the patients showed smooth gliding of the nerve roots during the test, and there was no marked decrease of amplitude. Our data suggest that temporary ischemic changes in the nerve root cause transient conduction disturbances. Pathologic examination showed that the periradicular tissue consisted of the granulation with vascularization and many inflammatory cell infiltrations.


The presence of periradicular fibrosis will compound the nerve root pain by fixing the nerve in one position, thereby increasing the susceptibility of the nerve root to tension or compression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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