Scott Falci March 3, 2018

Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, Ahead of Print.
OBJECTIVESurgically created lesions of the spinal cord dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) to relieve central pain after spinal cord injury (SCI) have historically been performed at and cephalad to, but not below, the level of SCI. This study was initiated to investigate the validity of 3 proposed concepts regarding the DREZ in SCI central pain: 1) The spinal cord DREZ caudal to the level of SCI can be a primary generator of SCI below-level central pain. 2) Neuronal transmission from a DREZ that generates SCI below-level central pain to brain pain centers can be primarily through sympathetic nervous system (SNS) pathways. 3) Perceived SCI below-level central pain follows a unique somatotopic map of DREZ pain-generators.METHODSThree unique patients with both intractable SCI below-level central pain and complete spinal cord transection at the level of SCI were identified. All 3 patients had previously undergone surgical intervention to their spinal cords—only cephalad to the level of spinal cord transection—with either DREZ microcoagulation or cyst shunting, in failed attempts to relieve their SCI below-level central pain. Subsequent to these surgeries, DREZ lesioning of the spinal cord solely caudal to the level of complete spinal cord transection was performed using electrical intramedullary guidance. The follow-up period ranged from 1 1/2 to 11 years.RESULTSAll 3 patients in this study had complete or near-complete relief of all below-level neuropathic pain. The analyzed electrical data confirmed and enhanced a previously proposed somatotopic map of SCI below-level DREZ pain generators.CONCLUSIONSThe results of this study support the following hypotheses. 1) The spinal cord DREZ caudal to the level of SCI can be a primary generator of SCI below-level central pain. 2) Neuronal transmission from a DREZ that generates SCI below-level central pain to brain pain centers can be primarily through SNS pathways. 3) Perceived SCI below-level central pain follows a unique somatotopic map of DREZ pain generators.

http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2017.9.SPINE17373?mi=67t04w&af=R

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