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Nerve conduction, tactile sensibility, and the electromyogram after suture or compression of peripheral nerve: a longitudinal study in man.
  1. F Buchthal,
  2. V Kühl


    In three patients sequential studies were performed of sensory and motor conduction after complete section and suture of the median nerve at the wrist and in one patient after partial section of the nerve. The sensory potential evoked by stimuli to digits III and I and recorded proximal to the suture line at the wrist appeared after a delay of three to four months, corresponding to a growth rate of 1.5-2.0 mm per day. From early in the course of regeneration the sensory potential was dispersed in 40 components. In the adult patient the cumulative amplitude increased for two years slowly and thereafter at a two times faster rate. Amplitude and tactile sensibility were normal after 40 months, but the sensory potential was still five times more dispersed than normal. The overall increase in the amplitude of the sensory potentials in children aged 10 and 12 years was three times faster than in adults. In the adults and in the children the maximum sensory conduction velocity was 10-25% of normal. It then increased at 3% per month during the first two years, and thereafter 10 times slower. Forty months after suture in the adults and 13-19 months after suture in the children the conduction velocity had reached 65-75% of normal. The pattern of discrete electrical activity during voluntary effort and the prolonged duration of motor unit potentials indicate persistent enlargement of the reinnervated motor units by peripheral sprouting. The sensory potential recovered five times faster after a compressive nerve lesion than after section and suture as seen in another patient with an affection of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. Normal tactile sensibility was attained 10 times faster than after section and suture. Maximum sensory and motor condution velocity recovered within one year from 60-70% to 80-90% of normal.

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