The application of continuous or alternating electric circuits at different potentials (110 to 1,000 volts) to rats produces demonstrable injury of the nerve cells of the brain and cord.1 The initial changes, observed in sections stained with basic dyes, consist of alterations of the Nissl substance in the cytoplasm. More severe injury produces marked shrinkage of the nucleus, which stains a uniform dark color, so that nucleolus and chromatin granules may no longer be discerned. It is thought that cells with such marked changes in the nucleus no longer have the potentialities of recovery.
The nerve cell injury is diffuse and occurs in the centers in the medulla controlling respiration. If the injury is minimal, it may be predicted that only a temporary respiratory block will be produced,2 and the use of artificial respiration will permit the cells to recover, so that breathing may be resumed. If the
LANGWORTHY OR. NERVE CELL INJURY IN CASES OF HUMAN ELECTROCUTION. JAMA. 1930;95(2):107-108. doi:10.1001/jama.1930.02720020023009