Transcranial motor evoked potential (TcMEP) monitoring may be valuable for predicting postoperative neurological complications with a high sensitivity and specificity, but one of the most frequent problems is the high false-positive rate. The purpose of this study was to clarify the differences in the risk factors for false-positive TcMEP alerts seen when performing surgery in patients with pediatric scoliosis and adult spinal deformity and to identify a method to reduce the false-positive rate.
The authors retrospectively analyzed 393 patients (282 adult and 111 pediatric patients) who underwent TcMEP monitoring while under total intravenous anesthesia during spinal deformity surgery. They defined their cutoff (alert) point as a final TcMEP amplitude of ≤ 30% of the baseline amplitude. Patients with false-positive alerts were classified into one of two groups: a group with pediatric scoliosis and a group with adult spinal deformity.
There were 14 cases of false-positive alerts (13%) during pediatric scoliosis surgery and 62 cases of false-positive alerts (22%) during adult spinal deformity surgery. Compared to the true-negative cases during adult spinal deformity surgery, the false-positive cases had a significantly longer duration of surgery and greater estimated blood loss (both p < 0.001). Compared to the true-negative cases during pediatric scoliosis surgery, the false-positive cases had received a significantly higher total fentanyl dose and a higher mean propofol dose (0.75 ± 0.32 mg vs 0.51 ± 0.18 mg [p = 0.014] and 5.6 ± 0.8 mg/kg/hr vs 5.0 ± 0.7 mg/kg/hr [p = 0.009], respectively). A multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that the duration of surgery (1-hour difference: OR 1.701; 95% CI 1.364–2.120; p < 0.001) was independently associated with false-positive alerts during adult spinal deformity surgery. A multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that the mean propofol dose (1-mg/kg/hr difference: OR 3.117; 95% CI 1.196–8.123; p = 0.020), the total fentanyl dose (0.05-mg difference; OR 1.270; 95% CI 1.078–1.497; p = 0.004), and the duration of surgery (1-hour difference: OR 2.685; 95% CI 1.131–6.377; p = 0.025) were independently associated with false-positive alerts during pediatric scoliosis surgery.
Longer duration of surgery and greater blood loss are more likely to result in false-positive alerts during adult spinal deformity surgery. In particular, anesthetic doses were associated with false-positive TcMEP alerts during pediatric scoliosis surgery. The authors believe that false-positive alerts during pediatric scoliosis surgery, in particular, are caused by “anesthetic fade.”