Effects of magnitude and duration of compression on spinal nerve root conduction

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1992 Feb;17(2):194-9. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199202000-00013.


Spinal nerve root compression occurs commonly in conditions such as herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal stenosis, and trauma. However, the pathophysiology of the symptoms and signs related to spinal nerve root compression is poorly understood. The purpose of the present study was to assess and compare effects of various pressures and durations of acute compression on spinal nerve root conduction in the pig cauda equina. Efferent conduction (compound motor action potentials) and afferent conduction (compound nerve action potentials) were monitored during compression for 2 or 4 hours with compression pressures of 0 (sham), 50, 100, or 200 mm Hg. Recovery from compression was monitored for 1.5 hours. No significant deficits in spinal nerve root conduction were observed with 0 or 50 mm Hg compression, compared to significant conduction deficits induced by 100 and 200 mm Hg compression. Three-way analysis of variance demonstrated significant effects of compression pressure and duration on conduction at the end of compression and recovery, with a significant difference between efferent and afferent conduction at the end of the recovery period. These observations suggest an interaction between biomechanical and microvascular mechanisms in the production of nerve root conduction deficits. Such information may relate to the motor and sensory dysfunction in clinical conditions associated with spinal nerve root compression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cauda Equina / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neurons, Efferent / physiology
  • Pressure
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature
  • Time Factors