Computer‐averaged short‐latency somatosensory evoked potentials (SLSEP) to unilateral stimulation of the peroneal nerve were recorded from surface electrodes overlying the peripheral nerve, cauda equina, spinal cord, brainstem, and contralateral sensorimotor region. Seven monkeys were studied under normal conditions and at various stages of distal axonopathy induced by systematic acrylamide intoxication. With the use of a noncephalic reference, a series of five small‐amplitude positive components were identified that precede the initial cortical activity. On the basis of timing and topography of the components, the source of the first one, SLSEP1, was localized to the lumbar dorsal root fibers and that of the second, SLSEP2, to the ascending spinal tracts, principally the gracile fasciculus. Bipolar recordings of the SLSEP2 overlying the rostral extreme of the cervical spinal cord provided a sensitive measure of the onset of distal axonopathy. Changes in the timing of this component antedated both abnormalities of spinal or peripheral nerve conduction and behavioral signs of intoxication. The initial alteration was specific to stimulation of the hind limb and was associated with early morphological change limited to the terminal and preterminal portions of the long axons in the gracile fasciculus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology