Percutaneous electrical stimulation of the trigeminal root was performed in 18 subjects undergoing surgery for idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia or implantation of electrodes into Meckel's cave for recording of limbic epileptic activity. All subjects had normal trigeminal reflexes and evoked potentials. Sensory action potentials were recorded antidromically from the supraorbital (V1), infraorbital (V2) and mental (V3) nerves. In the awake subject, sensory potentials were usually followed by myogenic artifacts due to direct activation of masticatory muscles or reflex activation of facial muscles. In the anaesthetised and curarised subject, sensory potentials from the three nerves showed 1.4-2.2 ms onset latency, 1.9-2.7 ms peak latency and 17-29 microV amplitude. Sensory conduction velocity was computed at the onset latency (maximum CV) and at the peak latency (peak CV). On average, maximum and peak CV were 52 and 39 m/s for V1, 54 and 42 m/s for V2 and 54 and 44 m/s for V3. There was no apparent difference in CV between subjects with trigeminal neuralgia and those with epilepsy. A significant inverse correlation was found between CV and age, the overall maximum CV declining from 59 m/s (16 years) to 49 m/s (73 years). This range of CV is compatible both with histometric data and previous electrophysiological findings on trigeminal nerve conduction. Intraoperative intracranial stimulation is also proposed as a method of monitoring trigeminal function under general anaesthesia.
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