Punctate Midline Myelotomy Reduces Pain Responses in a Rat Model of Lumbar Spine Pain: Evidence that the Postsynaptic Dorsal Column Pathway Conveys Pain from the Axial Spine. Academic Article uri icon


  • Punctate midline myelotomy (PMM) has been successfully applied clinically in humans for the relief of intractable visceral pain. The operation is thought to work by interrupting the postsynaptic dorsal column pathway (PSDC) of the spinal cord. In fact, PMM was developed specifically for that purpose after it was demonstrated in rats that the PSDC conveyed about 90% of the visceral pain information to the thalamus. The application of PMM also to the problem of severe intractable back or spine pain was never tested, and it has never been established whether the PSDC pathway relates only to visceral pain or whether there may be a broader involvement with pain affecting structures of embryological midline origin, perhaps including the spine. Retrospective analyses of decades of results from various attempted myelotomy procedures in man for the relief of pain are consistent with the notion that the common element crucial to the successful midline or visceral pain relief was the interruption--even incomplete--of the PSDC pathway. Herein, we present evidence from a rat model of lumbar facet pain that interruption of the PSDC significantly reduces pain responses. The implications for the possible treatment of severe intractable spine pain in man are discussed.

publication date

  • March 2018

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