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A Measure of Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Efficacy Applicable to H-Reflex Studies

     GI Boorman, JA Hoffer, K Kallesoe, D Viberg and C Mah

Abstract:   Background: When H-reflexes are recorded during movement in human subjects, the stimulator current output is not a good indicator of sensory stimulation efficacy because of unavoidable nerve movement relative to the stimulus electrodes. Therefore, the M-wave amplitude has been used by researchers as an indicator of the efficacy of the stimulus. In this study we have examined the general validity of the hypothesis that the M-wave amplitude is directly proportional to the group I sensory afferent volley evoked by the stimulus. Methods: A nerve recording cuff, stimulating electrodes, and EMG recording electrodes were implanted in cats. Nerve cuff recordings of centrally propagating volleys evoked by electrical stimuli were directly compared to M-waves produced by the same stimuli. Compound action potentials (CAPs) recorded in the sciatic nerve were compared with soleus M-waves during either tibial nerve or soleus muscle nerve stimulation. CAPs in the ulnar nerve were correlated with flexor carpi ulnaris M-waves during ulnar nerve stimulation. Results and Conclusions: Our findings indicate that for mixed nerve stimulation (e.g., tibial or ulnar nerve) the M-wave can be a reliable indicator of the centrally propagating sensory volley. Due to the high correlation between CAP and M-wave amplitude in these nerves, a small number of M-waves can give a good estimate of the size of the group I sensory volley. On the other hand, when nerves with only partially overlaping fibre diameter populations are stimulated (e.g., the soleus muscle nerve), the M-wave is not well correlated with the group I sensory volley and thus may not be used as a measure of the size of the input volley for H-reflex studies.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1996; 23: 264-270


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