Short latency trigemino-cervical reflexes can be recorded from sternocleidomastoid muscle after stimulation of the infraorbital branch of the trigeminal nerve. We studied the trigemino-cervical reflexes and the conventional blink reflex in three patients with an isolated lesion in the medulla oblongata, eight patients with multiple sclerosis, and two patients with supratentorial ischemic lesion. The trigemino-cervical response was abnormal in the patients with an isolated lesion in the medulla oblongata and in all multiple sclerosis patients, whereas both components of the blink reflex were preserved in the patients with a lesion in the medulla oblongata and in half of the patients with multiple sclerosis. The trigemino-cervical reflex was preserved in patients with supratentorial lesions, whereas the late component of the blink reflex was abnormal. These findings suggest that central pathways generating the trigemino-cervical reflex are confined to the medulla oblongata and that they are independent from those generating the long latency (R2) component of the blink reflex. The trigemino-cervical reflex may help in disclosing and localizing brainstem lesions.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging