Motor unit number index detects the effectiveness of surgical treatment in improving distal motor neuron loss in patients with incomplete cervical spinal cord injury
Background Recovery of motor dysfunction is important for patients with incomplete cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). To enhance the recovery of muscle strength, both research and treatments mainly focus on injury of upper motor neurons at the direct injury site. However, accumulating evidences have suggested that SCI has a downstream effect on the peripheral nervous system, which may contribute to the poor improvement of the muscle strength after operation. The aim of this study is to
... tudy is to investigate the impact of early vs. delayed surgical intervention on the lower motor neurons (LMNs) distal to the injury site in patients with incomplete cervical SCI. Methods Motor unit number index (MUNIX) was performed on the tibialis anterior (TA), extensor digitorum brevis (EDB) and abductor hallucis (AH) in 47 patients with incomplete cervical SCI (early vs. delayed surgical-treatment: 17 vs. 30) and 34 healthy subjects approximately 12 months after operation. All patients were further assessed by American spinal injury association (ASIA) motor scales and Medical Research Council (MRC) scales. Results There are no difference of both ASIA motor scores and MRC scales between the patients who accepted early and delayed surgical treatment (P > 0.05). In contrast, the patients undergoing early surgical treatment showed lower MUSIX values in both bilateral EDB and bilateral TA, along with greater MUNIX values in both right-side EDB and right-side TA, compared to the patients who accepted delayed surgical treatment (P < 0.05). Conclusions Cervical SCI has a negative effect on the LMNs distal to the injury site. Early surgical intervention in Cervical SCI patients may improve the dysfunction of LMNs distal to the injury site, reducing secondary motor neuron loss, and eventually improving clinical prognosis.