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Muscle Nerve. 1990 Nov;13(11):1076-82.

Spatial dispersion of magnetic stimulation in peripheral nerves.

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Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


To assess the longitudinal dispersion of the stimulus induced by the magnetic coil, collision experiments were performed in seven normal ulnar nerves. A supramaximal electrical stimulus S1 was delivered at the wrist, and followed by a supramaximal stimulus S2 in the upper arm, which was either electrical (electrical collision studies), or magnetic (magnetic collision studies). The interstimulus interval was varied by 0.2 msec increments from the time of complete cancellation of the S2 evoked motor response onwards, to include the entire span of recovery of that compound motor action potential. Collision curves were obtained for both magnetic and electrical stimuli by plotting the amplitude of the motor response elicited by S2 as a function of the interstimulus interval. In all seven normal ulnar nerves, comparison of the collision curves showed that the S2 evoked motor response is restored significantly more slowly when magnetic stimulation is used. This finding is best explained by longitudinal dispersion of the stimulus induced by the magnetic coil relative to conventional electrical stimulation, the large fibers being stimulated further away from the coil than the small ones. This interpretation is confirmed by the findings obtained with the same method in two cases of ulnar neuropathy, and by comparison of different intensities of magnetic stimulation.

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