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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1994 Aug 15;19(16):1795-802.

Experimental lumbar radiculopathy. Behavioral and histologic changes in a model of radicular pain after spinal nerve root irritation with chromic gut ligatures in the rat.

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1
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Wakayama Medical College, Japan.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The recently proposed animal model of lumbar radiculopathy was used to investigate behavioral consequences and histologic changes in spinal nerve roots, dorsal root ganglia, and spinal nerves after the L4, L5, and L6 nerve roots were loosely ligated with either silk or chromic gut sutures in an attempt to better understand the pathophysiologic mechanisms that give rise to pain associated with lumbar radiculopathy.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:

Little is known about the pathophysiologic mechanisms that give rise to pain associated with lumbar radiculopathy. The recently proposed animal model of unilateral lumbar radiculopathy, which demonstrated an association with motor paresis and thermal hyperalgesia of the affected hind limb and showed evidence of spontaneous pain has been demonstrated, may serve as a vehicle to allow direct investigation of the nature of the pathophysiological mechanisms associated with lumbar radiculopathy.

METHODS:

Three distinct treatments of the nerve roots were initially investigated: 1) a sham intervention, where the surgery simply exposed the nerve roots and dorsal root ganglion followed by standard closing procedures; 2) 4-0 silk ligature, where two loose ligatures of 4-0 silk were placed around the nerve roots; and 3) 4-0 chromic gut 2, where four 0.3 cm pieces of 4-0 chromic gut were laid adjacent to the nerve roots and secured by two loose ligatures of 4-0 chromic gut.

STUDY DESIGN:

ANOVA techniques were used to test for differential effects across time for the three treatment groups in terms of animal function. A qualitative analysis of the histology of the ipsilateral and contralateral nerve roots, dorsal root ganglia, and spinal nerves was done to correlate histologic changes with behavioral changes.

RESULTS:

Behavioral results were consistent with the previous study. Rats treated with chromic gut, but not silk, reliably demonstrated a prolonged thermal hyperalgesia that was maximal 2 weeks after surgery and lasted for up to 12 weeks. These behavioral changes, however, were not correlated with histologic changes in myelinated fiber content in the L4, L5, and L6 nerve roots, dorsal root ganglia and spinal nerves, the ipsilateral spinal nerved, dorsal root ganglia, and nerve roots of rates ligated with silk or chromic gut showed similar, significant, decreased in the number of large diameter myelinated fibers.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that mechanical constriction of the L4, L5, and L6 spinal nerve roots, as evidenced by a loss of myelinated fibers, is not sufficient to produce the behavioral effects associated with this model of lumbar radiculopathy. It is hypothesized that chemical factors from the chromic gut play a role in the pathophysiology and development of the behavioral, but not histological, changes in this model of lumbar radiculopathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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