Validity and reliability of intraoperative monitoring in pediatric spinal deformity surgery: A 23-year experience of 3436 surgical cases

Earl D. Thuet, Jacquelyn C. Winscher, Anne M. Padberg, Keith H. Bridwell, Lawrence G. Lenke, Matthew B. Dobbs, Mario Schootman, Scott J. Luhmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Study Design. This was a 23-year retrospective study of 3436 consecutive pediatric orthopedic spinal surgery patients between 1995 and 2008. Objective. To demonstrate the effectiveness of multimodality electrophysiologic monitoring in reducing the incidence of iatrogenic neurologic deficit in a pediatric spinal surgery population. Summary of Background Data. The elective nature of many pediatric spinal surgery procedures continues to drive the need for minimizing risk to each individual patient. Electrophysiologic monitoring has been proposed as an effective means of decreasing permanent neurologic injury in this population. Methods. A total of 3436 consecutive monitored pediatric spinal procedures at a single institution between January 1985 and September 2008 were reviewed. Monitoring included somatosensory-evoked potentials, descending neurogenic-evoked potentials, transcranial electric motor-evoked potentials, and various nerve root monitoring techniques. Patients were divided into 10 diagnostic categories. True-positive and false-negative monitoring outcomes were analyzed for each category. Neurologic deficits were classified as transient or permanent. Results. Seven of 10 diagnostic groups demonstrated true positive findings resulting in surgical intervention. Seventy-four (2.2%) potential neurologic deficits were identified in 3436 pediatric surgical cases. Seven patients (0.2%) had false-negative monitoring outcomes. These patients awoke with neurologic deficits undetected by neuromonitoring. Intervention reduced permanent neurologic deficits to 6 (0.17%) patients. Monitoring data were able to detect permanent neurologic status in 99.6% of this population. The ratio of intraoperative events to total monitored cases was 1 event every 42 surgical cases and 1 permanent neurologic deficit every 573 cases. Conclusion. The combined use of somatosensory-evoked potentials, transcranial electric motor-evoked potentials, descending neurogenic-evoked potentials, and electromyography monitoring allowed accurate detection of permanent neurologic status in 99.6% of 3436 patients and reduced the total number of permanent neurologic injuries to 6.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1880-1886
Number of pages7
Issue number20
StatePublished - Sep 15 2010


  • false negative
  • multimodality monitoring
  • permanent and transient neurologic deficit
  • true positive


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