Objectives: Radiofrequency has been used to suppress spasticity affecting motion in patients with cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury. This study tested spasticity suppression and locomotion change after pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) at the dorsal root ganglion of rats with spasticity. Materials and Methods: Twenty-four rats that survived for 28 days after thoracic spinal cord injury and showed spasticity in the right hind limb were separated randomly to a PRF group or Sham operation group. PRF consisted of 2 Hz biphasic 25 msec trains of PRF (500 kHz, 5 V intensity) applied on the right L5 dorsal root ganglion for 300 sec. Muscle tension of the right triceps surae was measured at 450 deg/sec of passive ankle dorsiflexion on the day before and 3, 7, and 14 days after PRF or sham operation. Locomotive function was evaluated by obtaining Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan (BBB) scores. Results: Muscle tension of the triceps surae decreased significantly three days after PRF, and gradually returned to baseline 14 days later. In the sham operation group, muscle tension increased significantly more than 14 days. The BBB scores declined from 10 to 8 after PRF and returned to pre-PRF levels 14 days later, while scores remained constant after sham operation. Conclusions: PRF produced significant and reversible suppression in spasticity, but this was accompanied by deterioration in locomotive function. Thus, caution should be exercised in considering the benefits and costs in suppressing spasticity in ambulatory patients, and implanted devices that apply titratable doses of PRF may be best to optimize patients' needs.
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