Reportedly, tetanic stimulation prior to transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) facilitates elicitation of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) by a mechanism involving increased corticomotoneuronal excitability in response to somatosensory input. However, the posttetanic MEP following stimulation of a pure sensory nerve has never been reported. Furthermore, no previous reports have described posttetanic MEPs in pediatric patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of posttetanic MEPs in pediatric neurosurgery patients and to compare the effects on posttetanic MEP after tetanic stimulation of the sensory branch of the pudendal nerve versus the standard median and tibial nerves, which contain a mixture of sensory and motor fibers.
In 31 consecutive pediatric patients with a mean age of 6.0 ± 5.1 years who underwent lumbosacral surgery, MEPs were elicited by TES without tetanic stimulation (conventional MEPs [c-MEPs]) and following tetanic stimulation of the unilateral median and tibial nerves (mt-MEPs) and the sensory branch of the pudendal nerve (p-MEP). Compound muscle action potentials were elicited from abductor pollicis brevis (APB), gastrocnemius (Gc), tibialis anterior (TA), and adductor hallucis (AH) muscles. The success rate of monitoring each MEP and the increases in the ratios of mt-MEP and p-MEP to c-MEP were investigated.
The success rate of monitoring p-MEPs was higher than those of mt-MEPs and c-MEPs (87.5%, 72.6%, and 63.3%, respectively; p < 0.01, adjusted by Bonferroni correction). The mean increase in the ratio of p-MEP to c-MEP for all muscles was significantly higher than that of mt-MEP to c-MEP (3.64 ± 4.03 vs 1.98 ± 2.23, p < 0.01). Subanalysis of individual muscles demonstrated significant differences in the increases in the ratios between p-MEP and mt-MEP in the APB bilaterally, as well as ipsilateral Gc, contralateral TA, and bilateral AH muscles.
Tetanic stimulation prior to TES can augment the amplitude of MEPs during pediatric neurosurgery, the effect being larger with pudendal nerve stimulation than tetanic stimulation of the unilateral median and tibial nerves. TES elicitation of p-MEPs might be useful in pediatric patients in whom it is difficult to elicit c-MEPs.