✓ Brain-stem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP) were monitored during 54 neurosurgical operations in the cerebellopontine angle. The BAEP were irreversibly obliterated in five patients who required deliberate section of the auditory nerve. Technical difficulties interfered with monitoring in three cases, and three patients had deafness and absent BAEP preoperatively.
Reversible alterations in BAEP were seen during 32 operations, with recovery after as long as 177 minutes of virtually complete obliteration. Changes in BAEP were associated with surgical retraction, operative manipulation, positioning of the head and neck for retromastoid craniectomy, and the combination of hypocarbia and moderate hypotension. In 19 cases, waveforms improved after specific interventions made by the surgeon or anesthesiologist because of deteriorating BAEP. In 13 other cases, BAEP recovered after maneuvers not specifically related to the electrophysiological monitoring, most often completion of operative manipulation. Whenever BAEP returned toward normal by the end of anesthesia, even after transient obliteration, hearing was preserved. Irreversible loss of BAEP occurred only when the auditory nerve was deliberately sacrificed. The authors conclude that monitoring of BAEP may help prevent injury to the auditory nerve and brain stem during operations in the cerebellopontine angle.