EMF Health-effects Research

Exposure of the Dorsal Root Ganglion in Rats to Pulsed Radiofrequency Currents Activates Dorsal Horn Lamina I and II Neurons.

Higuchi Y, Nashold BS Jr, Sluijter M, Cosman E, Pearlstein RD.

Neurosurgery 50(4):850-856, 2002

OBJECTIVE: Application of pulsed radiofrequency (RF) currents to the dorsal ganglion has been reported to produce long-term relief of spinal pain without causing thermal ablation. The present study was undertaken to identify spinal cord neurons activated by exposure of the dorsal ganglion to pulsed RF currents in rats.

METHODS: Left-sided hemilaminectomy was performed in adult Sprague-Dawley rats to expose the C6 dorsal root ganglion. An RF electrode (0.5 mm diameter) with a thermocouple for temperature monitoring was positioned on the exposed ganglion, and rats were assigned to one of three treatment groups: pulsed RF treatment (20 ms of 500-kHz RF pulses delivered at a rate of 2 Hz for 120 s to produce tissue heated to 38 degrees C), continuous RF (continuous RF currents for 120 s to produce tissue heated to 38 degrees C), or sham treatment (no RF current; electrode maintained in contact with ganglion for 120 s).

RESULTS: Treatment with pulsed RF but not continuous RF was associated with a significant increase in the number of cFOS-immunoreactive neurons in the superficial laminae of the dorsal horn as observed 3 hours after treatment.

CONCLUSION: Exposure of the dorsal ganglion to pulsed RF currents activates pain-processing neurons in the dorsal horn. This effect is not mediated by tissue heating.

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