G. Byröd, B. Rydevik, C. Nordborg, K. Olmarker

December 1998, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 445 - 449 Original article Read Full Article 10.1007/s005860050106

First Online: 10 December 1998

It is known that 24 h or more after epidural application of autologous nucleus pulposus, functional and structural changes are established in adjacent nerve roots. It is, however, not known how soon after the application these changes appear. The aim of this study was to reduce the exposure duration to 3 h and to evaluate nerve function and histological changes in the nerve tissue during this time period. A total of 12 pigs was used. In ten pigs, autologous nucleus pulposus (NP) was applied epidurally on the cauda equina. Nerve function was then monitored for 3 h by measurements of muscle action potentials (MAP) in the tail muscles, following nerve root stimulation cranial to the exposed zone. In five of the ten pigs with NP application, nerve root compression to 50 mm Hg was added by means of an inflatable balloon. In two control animals, neither NP nor compression was applied. At the end point, nerve root specimens were harvested for histological assessment. No reduction of MAP amplitude was detected in any of the series. However, there was an epidural accumulation of leucocytes and mast cells, as well as minor axonal and Schwann cell changes in both the NP and NP+ compression series, as compared to the control series. Morphological changes in terms of an epidural inflammatory reaction and minor axonal and Schwann cell damage may thus be demonstrated within 3 h of NP application, with or without compression. However, there is no functional deterioration of the nerve roots detectable within this time period.

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