Somatosensory evoked potential quantification of ulnar nerve blockade

Honorio T Benzon, J. R. Toleikis, C. Shanks, A. Ramseur, T. Sloan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We investigated the appropriateness of the somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) as an objective monitor of sensory blockade of the ulnar nerve by comparing the effects of saline and lidocaine infiltration of the ulnar nerve at the elbow, with and without epinephrine. The four treatments were administered in random order to each of eight volunteers who were asked to assess the intensity of sensory blockade on a 10-cm visual analogue scale (SVAS). Concomitantly, ulnar nerve SSEPs were recorded at the Erb's point, over the posterior spine at or rostral to C-7, and over the sensory cortex. All 16 of the saline and saline with epinephrine infiltrations resulted in SVAS scores of 1 or less. In contrast, all the lidocaine and lidocaine with epinephrine injections were associated with SVAS scores in excess of 8. With lidocaine this lasted 83 ± 22 min, and the duration of lidocaine with epinephrine was 248 ± 82 min. SSEP responses were considered abnormal when there were 15 min or more of a decrease in amplitude by 50% or more and an increase in latency by 15% or more. After plain lidocaine injection, all the amplitude measurements showed depression over 50%, with the exception of cortical measurements in one subject. Similarly, there were increased latencies at Erb's point and C-7 with lidocaine blocks. In contrast, change in cortical latency was seldom seen. Variable selection by multiple linear regression analysis of the six SSEP measurements gave a statistical model that sensory block duration (SVAS ≥ 8) could be specified by the duration of the reduced C-7 amplitude (r = 0.96). We conclude that ulnar nerve SSEP monitoring provides an objective assessment of sensory blockade of the ulnar nerve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-848
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 22 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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