Somatosensory and motor evoked potentials in dogs with chronic severe thoracolumbar spinal cord injury

Zu, H Z and Jeffery, N D and Granger, N (2018) Somatosensory and motor evoked potentials in dogs with chronic severe thoracolumbar spinal cord injury. VETERINARY JOURNAL, 237. pp. 49-54.

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Abstract

ome dogs that become paraplegic after severe spinal cord injury regain ambulation on the pelvic limbs despite permanent loss of pelvic limb sensation, a phenomenon termed ‘spinal walking’. Plastic changes in spinal cord circuitry are thought to mediate this form of recovery but the precise circumstances that favor its development are not known. More information on this phenomenon would be helpful because it might be possible to coax more function in chronically paraplegic animals so improving their, and their owners’, quality of life. We analysed the correlation of ‘spinal walking’ and pelvic limb pain sensation with recordings of scalp and spinal somatosensory and transcranial magnetic motor evoked potentials. We prospectively examined 94 paraplegic dogs (including 53 Dachshunds) that had sustained T10 to L3 spinal cord injury (including 78 dogs with acute intervertebral disc herniation) at a median time of 12.0 months from injury. Nine dogs exhibited ‘spinal walking’ and nine other individuals had intact pelvic limb pain sensation. Of 34 tested, 12 dogs had recordable scalp somatosensory evoked potentials. Fifty-three of 59 tested dogs had recordable spinal somatosensory evoked potentials, but only six had recordable potentials cranial to the lesion. Twenty-two of 94 tested dogs had recordable transcranial magnetic motor evoked potentials in the pelvic limb(s). There was no apparent association between intact evoked potential recording and either spinal walking or intact pain sensation. We conclude that factors other than influence, or lack of influence, of input carried by spinal cord long tracts mediate recovery of spinal walking.