Surface electrode somatosensory-evoked potentials in spinal surgery: implications for indications and practice

S L PapastefanouJ K Webb


A retrospective study of 442 major spinal operations with spinal cord monitoring performed in a University Hospital between 1982 and 1992 was performed. To assess the reliability of the authors' method for monitoring by somatosensory-evoked potential recording, to determine criteria for intraoperative corrective action, and to redefine the need for the wake-up test. The routine use of somatosensory-evoked potential monitoring in spinal surgery remains controversial. In Nottingham, the authors have used a method of recording from either scalp or high cervical electrodes. The recordings and outcomes of all monitored spinal operations between the years 1982 and 1992 were reviewed. In 442 procedures, 23 technical failures (no reliable monitoring) occurred. Most technical failures were in patients with severe preoperative neurology, identifiable by somatosensory-evoked potential recording before operation. In the remaining 419 procedures, a significant intraoperative change in response occurred in 70 procedures (16.7%). Using the definitions of the American EEG Society, the authors identified 10 true-positives and 60 false-positives. There were no false-negatives. A wake-up test was performed if an amplitude drop greater than 50% fr...Continue Reading


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