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Sedat Ulkatan, Ana Maria Jaramillo, Maria J. Téllez, Jinu Kim, Vedran Deletis and Kathleen Seidel


The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence of seizures during the intraoperative monitoring of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) elicited by electrical brain stimulation in a wide spectrum of surgeries such as those of the orthopedic spine, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, interventional radiology procedures, and craniotomies for supra- and infratentorial tumors and vascular lesions.


The authors retrospectively analyzed data from 4179 consecutive patients who underwent surgery or an interventional radiology procedure with MEP monitoring.


Of 4179 patients, only 32 (0.8%) had 1 or more intraoperative seizures. The incidence of seizures in cranial procedures, including craniotomies and interventional neuroradiology, was 1.8%. In craniotomies in which transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) was applied to elicit MEPs, the incidence of seizures was 0.7% (6/850). When direct cortical stimulation was additionally applied, the incidence of seizures increased to 5.4% (23/422). Patients undergoing craniotomies for the excision of extraaxial brain tumors, particularly meningiomas (15 patients), exhibited the highest risk of developing an intraoperative seizure (16 patients). The incidence of seizures in orthopedic spine surgeries was 0.2% (3/1664). None of the patients who underwent surgery for conditions of the spinal cord, neck, or peripheral nerves or who underwent cranial or noncranial interventional radiology procedures had intraoperative seizures elicited by TES during MEP monitoring.


In this largest such study to date, the authors report the incidence of intraoperative seizures in patients who underwent MEP monitoring during a wide spectrum of surgeries such as those of the orthopedic spine, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, interventional radiology procedures, and craniotomies for supra- and infratentorial tumors and vascular lesions. The low incidence of seizures induced by electrical brain stimulation, particularly short-train TES, demonstrates that MEP monitoring is a safe technique that should not be avoided due to the risk of inducing seizures.

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Daniel S. Yanni, Sedat Ulkatan, Vedran Deletis, Ignacio J. Barrenechea, Chandranath Sen and Noel I. Perin


Intramedullary spinal cord tumors can displace the surrounding neural tissue, causing enlargement and distortion of the normal cord anatomy. Resection requires a midline myelotomy to avoid injury to the posterior columns. Locating the midline for myelotomy is often difficult because of the distorted anatomy. Standard anatomical landmarks may be misleading in patients with intramedullary spinal cord tumors due to cord rotation, edema, neovascularization, or local scar formation. Misplacement of the myelotomy places the posterior columns at risk of significant postoperative disability. The authors describe a technique for mapping the dorsal column to accurately locate the midline.


A group of 10 patients with cervical and thoracic intramedullary spinal cord lesions underwent dorsal column mapping in which a strip electrode was used to define the midline. After the laminectomy and durotomy, a custom-designed multielectrode grid was placed on the exposed dorsal surface of the spinal cord. The electrode is made up of 8 parallel Teflon-coated stainless-steel wires (76-μm diameter, spaced 1 mm apart) embedded in silastic with each of the wires stripped of its insulating coating along a length of 2 mm. This strip electrode maps the amplitude gradient of conducted spinal somatosensory evoked potentials elicited by bilateral tibial nerve stimulation. Using these recordings, the dorsal columns are topographically mapped as lying between two adjacent numbers.


The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of the preoperative, immediate, and short-term postoperative neurological status, focusing especially on posterior column function. There were 8 women and 2 men whose mean age was 52 years. There were 4 ependymomas, 1 subependymoma, 1 gangliocytoma, 1 anaplastic astrocytoma, 1 cavernous malformation, and 2 symptomatic syringes requiring shunting. In all patients the authors attempted to identify the midline by using anatomical landmarks, and then proceeded with dorsal column mapping to identify the midline electrophysiologically. In the 2 patients with syringomyelia and in 5 of the patients with tumors, the authors were unable to identify the midline anatomically with any certainty. In 2 patients with intramedullary tumors, they were able to identify the midline anatomically with certainty. Dorsal column mapping allowed identification of the midline and to confirm the authors' anatomical localization. In 2 patients with intramedullary tumors, posterior column function was preserved only on 1 side. All other patients had intact posterior column function preoperatively.


Dorsal column mapping is a useful technique for guiding the surgeon in locating the midline for myelotomy in intramedullary spinal cord surgery. In conjunction with somatosensory evoked potential, motor evoked potential, and D-wave recordings, we have been able to reduce the surgical morbidity related to dorsal column dysfunction in this small group of patients.

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Sedat Ulkatan, Vedran Deletis and Isabel Fernandez-Conejero

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Júlia Miró, Pablo López-Ojeda, Andreu Gabarrós, Javier Urriza, Sedat Ulkatan, Vedran Deletis and Isabel Fernández-Conejero