Physiol. Res. 53: 209-214, 2004

Effects of Anesthesia and Nociceptive Stimulation in an Experimental Model of Brachial Plexus Avulsion


Department of Normal, Pathological and Clinical Physiology, Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Received January 6, 2003
Accepted April 25, 2003

Unilateral dorsal rhizotomy of brachial plexus nerves (C5-Th1) performed under general anesthesia is known to induce self-mutilation in rats. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of different anesthetic agents, and of pre-rhizotomy nociceptive stimulation on the appearance of self-mutilation. Self-mutialtion appeared in 78 % of animals after rhizotomy had been performed under pentobarbital anesthesia. When ketamine was used as the general anesthetic, self-mutilation was almost suppressed (13 %) and consisted of superficial erosions. Mechanical nociceptive stimulation, when applied just before the induction of ketamine anesthesia and subsequent rhizotomy, provoked self-mutilation in 91 % of rats. Furthermore, a serious type of self-mutilation consisting of total amputation of the distal part of the forepaw was present in 28 % of all self-mutilating animals after previous nociceptive stimulation. In terms of self-mutilation, these results suggest 1) the crucial role of anesthesia, especially that which involved NMDA receptors (ketamine), and 2) the need of an additional factor to chronic deafferentation, formed either by activity of nociceptive pathways just before rhizotomy (nociceptive stimulation preceding ketamine anesthesia) or by injury discharges (pentobarbital anesthesia).

Key words
Rhizotomy • Deafferentation • Autotomy • Neuropathic Pain • Prior Nociception

© 2004 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences