Changes in median nerve somatosensory transmission and motor output following transient deafferentation of the radial nerve in humans

B.A. Murphy, H.H. Taylor, S.A. Wilson, J.A. Knight, K.M. Mathers, Stephan Schug

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    12 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective: To determine if transient anaesthetic deafferentation of the radial nerve would lead to alterations in processing of early somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) from the median nerve or alter cortico-motor output to the median nerve innervated abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscle.Methods: Spinal, brainstem, and cortical SEPs to median nerve stimulation were recorded before, during and after ipsilateral radial nerve block with local anaesthesia. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and motor cortex output maps were recorded from the APB muscle.Results: There were no significant changes to most early SEP peaks. The N30 peak, however, showed a significant increase in amplitude, which remained elevated throughout the anaesthetic period, returning to baseline once the anaesthetic had completely worn off. MEP amplitude of the median nerve innervated APB muscle was significantly decreased during the radial nerve blockade. There was also a significant alteration in the APB optimal site location, and a small but significant decrease in the silent period during the radial nerve blockade.Conclusions: Transient anaesthetic deafferentation of the radial nerve at the elbow leads to a rapid modulation of cortical processing of median nerve input and output. These changes suggest an overall decrease in motor cortex output to a median nerve innervated muscle not affected by the radial nerve block, occurring concomitantly with an increased amplitude of the median nerve generated N30 SEP peak, thought to represent processing in the supplementary motor area (SMA). Independent subcortical connections to the SMA are thought to contribute to the N30 response observed in this study. Unmasking of pre-existing but latent cortico-cortical and/or thalamo-cortical connections may be the mechanism underlying the cortical SEP increases observed following radial nerve deafferentation.Significance: Transient deafferentation of the radial nerve, which supplies wrist and hand extensor muscles, has been shown to alter sensory processing from and motor output to the median nerve innervated thenar muscles.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1477-1488
    JournalClinical Neurophysiology
    Volume114
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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