To investigate the dual nature of the posterior neck N13 potential, we attempted to establish the presence of a latency dissociation between caudal (cN13) and rostral (rN13) potentials on stimulating the ulnar nerve, in view of its lower radicular entry compared to the median nerve. SEPs were evaluated in 24 normal subjects after both median and ulnar nerve stimulation. cN13 was prominent in the lower cervical segments, and rN13 was localized mainly in the upper ones using anteroposterior and longitudinal bipolar montage, respectively. The N9-cN13 interpeak latency did not differ significantly from N9-rN13 when stimulating the median nerve. On the other hand, the N9-rN13 interpeak was significantly longer than the N9-cN13 interpeak when the ulnar nerve was stimulated. The rN13 presented the same latency as P13-P14 far-field potentials in 17 out of 24 ulnar nerves tested. Therefore, the ulnar nerve stimulation evokes two distinct posterior neck N13 potentials. It is widely accepted that the caudal N13 is a postsynaptic potential reflecting the activity of the dorsal horn interneurons in the lower cervical cord. We suggest that the rostral N13 is probably generated close to the cuneate nucleus, which partly contributes to the genesis of P13-P14 far-field potentials.
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