Reason for Performing Study: So far, only transcranial motor evoked potentials (MEP) of the extensor carpi radialis and tibialis cranialis have been documented for diagnostic evaluation in horses. These allow for differentiating whether lesions are located in either the thoraco-lumbar region or in the cervical myelum and/or brain. Transcranial trapezius MEPs further enable to distinguish between spinal and supraspinal located lesions. No normative data are available. It is unclear whether transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are interchangeable modalities.
Objectives: To provide normative data for trapezius MEP parameters in horses for TES and TMS and to discern direct and indirect conduction routes by neurophysiological models that use anatomical geometric characteristics to relate latency times with peripheral (PCV) and central conduction velocities (CCV).
Methods: Transcranial electrical stimulation-induced trapezius MEPs were obtained from twelve horses. TES and TMS-MEPs (subgroup 5 horses) were compared intra-individually. Trapezius MEPs were measured bilaterally twice at 5 intensity steps. Motoneurons were localized using nerve conduction models of the cervical and spinal accessory nerves (SAN). Predicted CCVs were verified by multifidus MEP data from two horses referred for neurophysiological assessment.
Results: Mean MEP latencies revealed for TES: 13.5 (11.1–16.0)ms and TMS: 19.7 (12–29.5)ms, comprising ∼100% direct routes and for TMS mixed direct/indirect routes of L:23/50; R:14/50. Left/right latency decreases over 10 > 50 V for TES were: –1.4/–1.8 ms and over 10 > 50% for TMS: –1.7/–3.5 ms. Direct route TMS-TES latency differences were 1.88–4.30 ms. 95% MEP amplitudes ranges for TES were: L:0.26–22 mV; R:0.5–15 mV and TMS: L:0.9 – 9.1 mV; R:1.1–7.9 mV.
Conclusion: This is the first study to report normative data characterizing TES and TMS induced- trapezius MEPs in horses. The complex trapezius innervation leaves TES as the only reliable stimulation modality. Differences in latency times along the SAN route permit for estimation of the location of active motoneurons, which is of importance for clinical diagnostic purpose. SAN route lengths and latency times are governed by anatomical locations of motoneurons across C2-C5 segments. TES intensity-dependent reductions of trapezius MEP latencies are similar to limb muscles while MEP amplitudes between sides and between TES and TMS are not different. CCVs may reach 180 m/s.