Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring in spine surgery: Indications, efficacy, and role of the preoperative checklist

Rohan R. Lall, Jason S. Hauptman, Carlos Munoz, George R. Cybulski, Tyler Koski, Aruna Ganju, Richard G. Fessler, Zachary A. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Spine surgery carries an inherent risk of damage to critical neural structures. Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring (IONM) is frequently used to improve the safety of spine surgery by providing real-time assessment of neural structures at risk. Evidence-based guidelines for safe and efficacious use of IONM are lacking and its use is largely driven by surgeon preference and medicolegal issues. Due to this lack of standardization, the preoperative sign-in serves as a critical opportunity for 3-way discussion between the neurosurgeon, anesthesiologist, and neuromonitoring team regarding the necessity for and goals of IONM in the ensuing case. This analysis contains a review of commonly used IONM modalities including somatosensory evoked potentials, motor evoked potentials,spontaneous or free-running electromyography, triggered electromyography, and combined multimodal IONM. For each modality the methodology, interpretation, and reported sensitivity and specificity for neurological injury are addressed.This is followed by a discussion of important IONM-related issues to include in the preoperative checklist,including anestheticprotocol, warning criteria for possible neurological injury, and consideration of what steps to take in response to a positive alarm. The authors conclude with a cost-effectiveness analysis of IONM, and offer recommendations for IONM use during various forms of spine surgery, including both complex spine and minimally invasive procedures, as well as lower-risk spinal operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE10
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012


  • Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring
  • Motor evoked potential
  • Preoperative checklist
  • Somatosensory evoked potential
  • Spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring in spine surgery: Indications, efficacy, and role of the preoperative checklist'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this