Nociceptive trigeminal reflexes in non-sedated horses

Veres-Nyeki, K O and Leandri, M and Spadavecchia, C (2012) Nociceptive trigeminal reflexes in non-sedated horses. VETERINARY JOURNAL, 191 (1). pp. 101-7.

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Electrically induced reflexes can be used to investigate the physiology and pathophysiology of the trigeminal system in humans. Similarly, the assessment of the trigemino-cervical (TCR) and blink reflexes (BR) may provide a new diagnostic tool in horses. The aim of this study was to evoke nociceptive trigeminal reflexes and describe the electrophysiological characteristics in non-sedated horses. The infraorbital (ION) and supraorbital nerves (SON) were stimulated transcutaneously in 10 adult Warmblood horses in separate sessions using train-of-five electrical pulses. The current was increased gradually until the TCR threshold was found. The stimulus–response curve of the TCR was evaluated. At the same time as TCR, the BR response was also assessed. Surface electromyographic (EMG) responses were recorded from the orbicularis oculi, splenius and cleidomastoideus muscles. Latency, duration, amplitude of the reflexes and behavioural responses were analysed. Noxious electrical stimulation of the ION or SON evoked reflex EMG responses, with similar features regardless of the nerve that had been stimulated. Stimulations of increasing intensity elicited reflexes of increasing amplitude and decreasing latency, accompanied by stronger behavioural reactions, therefore confirming the nociceptive nature of the TCR. These findings provide a reference for the assessment of dysfunction of the equine trigeminal system.

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