Monitoring of brain evoked muscle-action potentials (Br[E]-MsEPs) is a sensitive method that provides accurate periodic assessment of neurological status. However, occasionally this method gives a relatively high rate of false-positives, and thus hinders surgery. The alarm point is often defined based on a particular decrease in amplitude of a Br(E)-MsEP waveform, but waveform latency has not been widely examined. The purpose of this study was to evaluate onset latency in Br(E)-MsEP monitoring in spinal surgery and to examine the efficacy of an alarm point using a combination of amplitude and latency.
A single-center, retrospective study was performed in 83 patients who underwent spine surgery using intraoperative Br(E)-MsEP monitoring. A total of 1726 muscles in extremities were chosen for monitoring, and acceptable baseline Br(E)-MsEP responses were obtained from 1640 (95%). Onset latency was defined as the period from stimulation until the waveform was detected. Relationships of postoperative motor deficit with onset latency alone and in combination with a decrease in amplitude of ≥ 70% from baseline were examined.
Nine of the 83 patients had postoperative motor deficits. The delay of onset latency compared to the control waveform differed significantly between patients with and without these deficits (1.09% ± 0.06% vs 1.31% ± 0.14%, p < 0.01). In ROC analysis, an intraoperative 15% delay in latency from baseline had a sensitivity of 78% and a specificity of 96% for prediction of postoperative motor deficit. In further ROC analysis, a combination of a decrease in amplitude of ≥ 70% and delay of onset latency of ≥ 10% from baseline had sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 93%, a false positive rate of 7%, a false negative rate of 0%, a positive predictive value of 64%, and a negative predictive value of 100% for this prediction.
In spinal cord monitoring with intraoperative Br(E)-MsEP, an alarm point using a decrease in amplitude of ≥ 70% and delay in onset latency of ≥ 10% from baseline has high specificity that reduces false positive results.