The effectiveness of radiofrequency (RF) cordotomy of segmental motoneurone pools of the lumbosacral cord in reducing spasticity of decerebrate cats is evaluated. The need for a new form of therapy for clinical spasticity is based upon the limitations of contemporary methods, including surgical and pharmacological techniques. In man, spasticity of spinal origin may be treated effectively by intrathecal administration of hyperbaric phenol solutions. The advantages and disadvantages are described. Difficulty in controlling the lesion is emphasized. Tension and EMG-length curves of the spastic triceps surae muscle in acute and chronic animals show that RF lesions (fixed amperage and duration) of the segmental motoneurone pools reduces myotatic reflex activity in accordance with the number of segments cordotomized. Clinical examination including cinematography and electromyography complement the physiological interpretation. RF lesions of the internuncial pool induce spontaneous EMG discharges. This finding is related to similar observations of EMG discharges and alterations in muscle tone after asphyxiation of the spinal cord.
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