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January 1992

The H-reflex to Magnetic Stimulation of Lower-Limb Nerves

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, University of California, Irvine.

Arch Neurol. 1992;49(1):66-71. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530250070018

• We elicited H-reflexes by magnetic and electrical stimulation of several different nerves in 10 healthy subjects and two patients with S-1 radiculopathy. The posterior tibial nerve at the popliteal fossa and the femoral nerve at the inguinal ligament were tested with both electrical and magnetic stimulation; the proximal sciatic nerve was tested only with magnetic stimulation. Muscle activity was recorded from the soleus muscle for posterior tibial and sciatic nerve stimulation and from the vastus medialis muscle for femoral nerve stimulation. No significant difference was found between the latency of H-reflexes evoked by magnetic or electrical stimulation. With magnetic stimulation, the mean (± SD) la sensory fiber conduction velocity in the proximal segment of the sciatic nerve was 72.4 ± 3.3 m/s, while the motor nerve fiber conduction velocity in the same portion of the nerve was significantly slower, at 60.6 ± 2.0 m/s. In two patients with unilateral S-1 radiculopathy, the latency of the H-reflex from the soleus muscle to both magnetic and electrical stimulation of the posterior tibial nerve was absent or prolonged on the affected side. Magnetic stimulation can be used to study the H-reflex and la fiber conduction velocity and is particularly advantageous when testing deeply located nerve trunks.

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