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Open Access Publications from the University of California

EMG Characteristics of the External Anal Sphincter Guarding Reflex and Effects of a Unilateral Ventral Root Avulsion Injury in Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta).

  • Author(s): Chang, HH
  • Lee, UJ
  • Vu, T
  • Pikov, V
  • Nieto, JH
  • Christe, KL
  • Havton, LA
  • et al.

The external anal sphincter (EAS) is important for the maintenance of bowel continence and may be compromised by a variety of neuropathic conditions. However, large animal models for the study of EAS functions have been sparse. The EAS guarding reflex was examined by electromyography (EMG) in neurologically intact rhesus macaques (n=6) and at 4-6 weeks after a unilateral EAS denervation from an L6-S3 ventral root avulsion (VRA) injury (n=6). Baseline EAS EMG recordings were quiescent in all subjects, and evoked responses showed an initial large amplitude EMG activity, which gradually returned to baseline within 1-2 minutes. At 4-6 weeks post-operatively, the EAS guarding reflex showed a significantly reduced EMG response duration of 47±15 seconds and area under the curve (AUC) of 0.198±0.097 mV-s compared to the corresponding evoked EAS EMG duration of 102±19 seconds and AUC of 0.803±0.225 mV-s (p<0.05) in the control group. Detailed time and frequency domain analysis of the evoked EAS EMG responses for the first 40 seconds showed no difference between groups for the maximum amplitude but a significant decrease for the mean amplitude across the study period and an early AUC reduction for the first 10 seconds in the VRA injury group. Time-frequency analysis and power spectrum plots indicated decreased intensity and a narrower mid-range of frequencies in the VRA injury group. We conclude that the EAS guarding reflex in rhesus macaques shows characteristic EMG features in control subjects and signs of partial target denervation after a unilateral L6-S3 VRA injury.

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