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Differences in spinothalamic function of cervical and thoracic dermatomes: insights using contact heat evoked potentials


Haefeli, Jenny S; Blum, Julia; Steeves, John D; Kramer, John L K; Curt, Armin E P (2013). Differences in spinothalamic function of cervical and thoracic dermatomes: insights using contact heat evoked potentials. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 30(3):291-298.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: After spinal cord injury, contact heat evoked potentials (CHEPs) may represent a means to refine the clinical assessment of sensory function from each spinal cord segment by quantifying nociception, including conduction along the spinothalamic tract. METHODS: : The influence of stimulation site (i.e., dermatomes) on CHEPs and thermal thresholds in 19 healthy subjects (mean age, 45.2 ± 18.3 years) divided into 2 age classes (younger subjects, n = 10; mean age, 28.8 ± 5.2 years; older subjects, n = 9; mean age, 63.4 ± 3.4 years) at 5 different dermatomes (C4, C5, C6, C8, and T4) was assessed. RESULTS: : In terms of distance from the body midline (i.e., spinal cord entry), there was a reduction in CHEP amplitudes from proximal (C4 and T4) to distal (C6 and C8) dermatomes with a corresponding reduction in nociceptive perception (i.e., pain threshold and rating). Within primary and secondary cortical sensory areas, including areas associated with affective noxious processing, the cortical source density analysis showed a similar current density distribution between C4 and C8 dermatomes but consistent higher current densities for C4. CONCLUSIONS: : The study supports CHEPs as a feasible tool for assessing discrete dermatomes corresponding to spinal cord segments. The results suggest that the proximodistal pattern in the intensity of perceived pain and CHEP amplitudes is likely attributable to the distribution of heat nociceptors and the increase in conduction distance from proximal to distal dermatomes. The present findings emphasize on the importance that if patients are assessed segment by segment, the underlying topographical differences need to be accounted for.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: After spinal cord injury, contact heat evoked potentials (CHEPs) may represent a means to refine the clinical assessment of sensory function from each spinal cord segment by quantifying nociception, including conduction along the spinothalamic tract. METHODS: : The influence of stimulation site (i.e., dermatomes) on CHEPs and thermal thresholds in 19 healthy subjects (mean age, 45.2 ± 18.3 years) divided into 2 age classes (younger subjects, n = 10; mean age, 28.8 ± 5.2 years; older subjects, n = 9; mean age, 63.4 ± 3.4 years) at 5 different dermatomes (C4, C5, C6, C8, and T4) was assessed. RESULTS: : In terms of distance from the body midline (i.e., spinal cord entry), there was a reduction in CHEP amplitudes from proximal (C4 and T4) to distal (C6 and C8) dermatomes with a corresponding reduction in nociceptive perception (i.e., pain threshold and rating). Within primary and secondary cortical sensory areas, including areas associated with affective noxious processing, the cortical source density analysis showed a similar current density distribution between C4 and C8 dermatomes but consistent higher current densities for C4. CONCLUSIONS: : The study supports CHEPs as a feasible tool for assessing discrete dermatomes corresponding to spinal cord segments. The results suggest that the proximodistal pattern in the intensity of perceived pain and CHEP amplitudes is likely attributable to the distribution of heat nociceptors and the increase in conduction distance from proximal to distal dermatomes. The present findings emphasize on the importance that if patients are assessed segment by segment, the underlying topographical differences need to be accounted for.

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6 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:30 June 2013
Deposited On:20 Jun 2013 11:26
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:49
Publisher:Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
ISSN:0736-0258
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/WNP.0b013e31827ed9ee
PubMed ID:23733095

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