Rapid cortical reorganisation and improved sensitivity of the hand following cutaneous anaesthesia of the forearm.

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The cortical representation of various body parts constantly changes based on the pattern of afferent nerve impulses. As peripheral nerve injury results in a cortical and subcortical reorganisation this has been suggested as one explanation for the poor clinical outcome seen after peripheral nerve repair in humans. Cutaneous anaesthesia of the forearm in healthy subjects and in patients with nerve injuries results in rapid improvement of hand sensitivity. The mechanism behind the improvement is probably based on a rapid cortical and subcortical reorganisation. The aim of this work was to study cortical changes following temporary cutaneous forearm anaesthesia. Ten healthy volunteers participated in the study. Twenty grams of a local anaesthetic cream (EMLA) was applied to the volar aspect of the right forearm. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed during sensory stimulation of all fingers of the right hand before and during cutaneous forearm anaesthesia. Sensitivity was also clinically assessed before and during forearm anaesthesia. A group analysis of functional magnetic resonance image data showed that, during anaesthesia, the hand area in the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex expanded cranially over the anaesthetised forearm area. Clinically right hand sensitivity in the volunteers improved during forearm anaesthesia. No significant changes were seen in the left hand. The clinically improved hand sensitivity following forearm anaesthesia is probably based on a rapid expansion of the hand area in the primary somatosensory cortex which presumably results in more nerve cells being made available for the hand in the primary somatosensory cortex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-844
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Medical Radiation Physics, Malmö (013243210), Hand Surgery Research Group (013241910), Reconstructive Surgery (013240300)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurosciences


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