One of the many intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring tests that is used during a surgery is a Somatosensory Evoked Potential or SSEP. This test monitors the nerve pathways that are responsible for feeling pressure, touch, temperature and pain. SSEP monitoring assess the signal that is sent to the brain and provides real-time feedback to the neuromonitorist. Evaluating these signals are crucial to IONM, because these tests inform the neuromonitorist and surgeon when a sensitive, high-risk region has been compressed or is in danger of being compromised. The ability to mitigate deficits and avoid injury to these sensitive regions ensures a decreased risk to long-term complication or injury to the patient, such as paralysis.
What Is SSEP and How Does It Work?
During high-risk surgeries, stimulating electrodes are placed over various nerves, such as the ankle and wrist and recording electrodes are placed on the scalp over the sensory region of the brain. Sensory pathway function is evaluated by measuring the commute time between the brain and the specific nerve. The strength of the signal is also taken into account. A weaker signal or slower commute time suggests an event or complication is interfering with a pathway.
SSEPs provide feedback to the surgical team and are extremely useful in spinal cord monitoring and assessment. Somatosensory Evoked Potentials assess vascular flow as well as conduction of neural responses from nerve roots to the spinal cord and brain. SSEPs may also be combined with other neuromonitoring tests that focus on motor function. One such test is an Electromyography or EMG. Along with SSEP, these tests are standard practice in intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring. IONM is the standard of care for thoracic, cervical, brain and other vascular surgeries, all which utilize SSEP testing.
Contact Medsurant Health for IONM Assistance
Intraoperative neuromonitoring is a non-invasive procedure that reduces the risk of complications during high-risk surgery. For more information on SSEP testing, IONM or other neuromonitoring evaluations, contact Medsurant Health. Our professionals are glad to discuss questions or concerns with patients, healthcare professionals or physicians alike. With our IONM practices we are seeking to advance the standard of care for surgical procedures. As always, we are constantly pursuing best practices in medicine for superior patient safety.