Introduction: Spinal reflexes reorganize in cerebral palsy (CP), producing hyperreflexia and spasticity. CP is more common among male infants, and gender might also influence brain and spinal-cord reorganization. This retrospective study investigated the frequency of higher-graded EMG responses elicited by electrical nerve-root stimulation during selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), prior to partial nerve- root deafferentation, considering not only segmental level and body side, but also gender.
Methods: Intraoperative neuromonitoring (IOM) was used in SDR to pinpoint the rootlets most responsible for exacerbated stimulation-evoked EMG patterns recorded from lower-limb muscle groups. Responses were graded according to an objective response-classification system, ranging from no abnormalities (grade 0) to highly abnormal (grade 4+), based on ipsilateral spread and contralateral involvement. Non-parametric analysis of data with repeated measures was primarily used in investigating the frequency distribution of these various EMG response grades. Over 7000 rootlets were stimulated, and the results for 65 girls and 81 boys were evaluated, taking changes in the composition of patient groups into account when considering GMFCS levels.
Results: The distribution of graded EMG responses varied according to gender, laterality, and level. Higher-graded EMG responses were markedly more frequent in the boys and at lower segmental levels (L5, S1). Left-biased asymmetry in higher-graded rootlets was also more noticeable in the boys and in patients with GMFCS level I. A close link was observed between higher-grade assessments and left-biased asymmetry.
Conclusions: Detailed insight into the patient's initial spinal-neurofunctional state prior to deafferentation suggests that differences in asymmetrical spinal reorganization might be attributable to a hemispheric imbalance.