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Acute nerve compression and the compound muscle action potential.

  • Author(s): Stecker, Mark M;
  • Baylor, Kelly;
  • Chan, Yiumo Michael
  • et al.

Detecting acute nerve compression using neurophysiologic studies is an important part of the practice of clinical intra-operative neurophysiology. The goal of this paper was to study the changes in the compound muscle action potential (CMAP) during acute mechanical compression. This is the type of injury most likely to occur during surgery. Thus, understanding the changes in the CMAP during this type of injury will be useful in the detection and prevention using intra-operative neurophysiologic monitoring. The model involved compression of the hamster sciatic nerve over a region of 1.3 mm with pressures up to 2000 mmHg for times on the order of 3 minutes. In this model CMAP amplitude dropped to 50% of its baseline value when a pressure of roughly 1000 mmHg is applied while, at the same time, nerve conduction velocities decline by only 5%. The ability to detect statistically significant changes in the CMAP at low force levels using other descriptors of the CMAP including duration, latency variation, etc alone or in conjunction with amplitude and velocity measures was investigated. However, these other parameters did not allow for earlier detection of significant changes. This study focused on a model in which nerve injury on a short time scale is purely mechanical in origin. It demonstrated that a pure compression injury produced large changes in CMAP amplitude prior to large changes in conduction velocity. On the other hand, ischemic and stretch injuries are associated with larger changes in conduction velocity for a given value of CMAP amplitude reduction.

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