Spinal cord monitoring with transcranial motor evoked potentials in patients with neural axis abnormalities undergoing spinal deformity surgery

Ryan D. Muchow, Anna McClung, Patricia Rampy, Elizabeth Van Allen, Steven Sparagana, Daniel J. Sucato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Study Design: Retrospective, case-control study. Objectives: To report the effectiveness of transcranial motor evoked potentials (TcMEPs) in patients undergoing scoliosis surgery with neural axis abnormalities (NAAs). Summary of Background Data: Transcranial motor evoked potentials are a safe and sensitive modality to identify impending spinal cord injury in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Previous studies have analyzed somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) and neurogenic motor evoked potentials in NAA patients, but to our knowledge, no study has addressed the use of TcMEPs in these patients. Methods: We performed an institutional review board-approved retrospective review of a consecutive series of patients with NAA at a single institution and compared them with a consecutive series of AIS patients undergoing scoliosis surgery with spinal cord monitoring using TcMEP and SSEP. We compared the ability to obtain baseline data and the incidence of critical changes in TcMEPs and SSEPs between groups and examined a correlation with postoperative neurologic deficits. Results: We compared 38 patients with NAA (15 Chiari malformations, 12 syrinx, 7 tethered cords, and 4 spinal cord tumors) with 184 patients with AIS. The age was similar and preoperative curve magnitude was greater in the NAA group. Good baseline data were obtained less frequently in the NAA group for TcMEPs (94.7% vs. 100%; p < .001) and SSEPs (89.5% vs. 100%; p < .001). There was no statistical difference in critical deviation from baseline in the NAA group for TcMEPs (3 of 38 [7.9%] vs. 5 of 184 [2.7%]; p = .120) or SSEPs (0 of 38 vs. 3 of 184 [1.6%] (p = .430). There were no postoperative neurologic deficits in the NAA or AIS group. Conclusions: The ability to obtain baseline spinal cord monitoring in patients with NAA approaches that of an AIS group and accurately identifies impending neurologic deficits with high sensitivity. Surgeons should be confident that TcMEP baseline data can be obtained in patients with spinal cord pathology and should trust critical changes in TcMEPs intraoperatively to prevent spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-210
Number of pages6
JournalSpine Deformity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • Neural axis abnormality
  • Neuromonitoring
  • Scoliosis
  • Transcranial motor evoked potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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