Surgeon-directed transcranial motor evoked potential spinal cord monitoring in spinal deformity surgery.
Spinal deformity surgery carries the risk of neurological injury. Neurophysiological monitoring allows early identification of intraoperative cord injury which enables early intervention resulting in a better prognosis. Although multimodal monitoring is the ideal, resource constraints make surgeon-directed intraoperative transcranial motor evoked potential (TcMEP) monitoring a useful compromise. Our experience using surgeon-directed TcMEP is presented in terms of viability, safety, and efficacy.We carried out a retrospective review of a single surgeon’s prospectively maintained database of cases in which TcMEP monitoring had been used between 2010 and 2017. The upper limbs were used as the control. A true alert was recorded when there was a 50% or more loss of amplitude from the lower limbs with maintained upper limb signals. Patients with true alerts were identified and their case history analyzed.Of the 299 cases reviewed, 279 (93.3%) had acceptable traces throughout and awoke with normal clinical neurological function. No patient with normal traces had a postoperative clinical neurological deficit. True alerts occurred in 20 cases (6.7%). The diagnoses of the alert group included nine cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) (45%) and six of congenital scoliosis (30%). The incidence of deterioration based on diagnosis was 9/153 (6%) for AIS, 6/30 (20%) for congenital scoliosis, and 2/16 (12.5%) for spinal tuberculosis. Deterioration was much more common in congenital scoliosis than in AIS (p = 0.020). Overall, 65% of alerts occurred during rod instrumentation: 15% occurred during decompression of the internal apex in vertebral column resection surgery. Four alert cases (20%) awoke with clinically detectable neurological compromise.Surgeon-directed TcMEP monitoring has a 100% negative predictive value and allows early identification of physiological cord distress, thereby enabling immediate intervention. In resource constrained environments, surgeon-directed TcMEP is a viable and effective method of intraoperative spinal cord monitoring. Level of evidence: III Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(3):547-552.
Authors: Ramanare Sibusiso Magampa, Robert Dunn