Spinal cord stimulation evoked potentials during thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm surgery

B. Drenger, S. D. Parker, R. W. McPherson, R. B. North, G. M. Williams, B. A. Reitz, C. Beattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Although monitoring of somatosensory evoked potentials elicited from stimulation of lower extremity peripheral nerves has been suggested as a method for assessing neural function during thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm surgery, this technique has been reported to yield a large number of false positives. It was believed that direct stimulation of the spinal cord would eliminate some of the problems associated with peripheral evoked potentials. The present study compared in 18 patients the use of scalp recorded evoked potentials following stimulation of either the posterior tibial nerve via percutaneous needles or the spinal cord via an epidural electrode previously placed fluoroscopically. In 10 patients in whom distal bypass or shunt was not used, peripheral evoked potentials totally disappeared within 5-30 min of aortic clamping. Spinal cord stimulation evoked potentials disappeared permanently in 2 patients shortly after aortic cross-clamping; 1 died shortly after the procedure, and the other awoke densely paraplegic and died the next day. When distal perfusion was maintained by shunt or bypass, the disappearance of both peripheral and spinal evoked potentials accurately predicted the neurologic outcome of 1 paralyzed patient. Loss of spinal cord stimulation evoked potentials was found to be correlated with adverse neurologic outcome. Over the period of aortic clamping a gradual decrease in mean amplitude (50% at 45 min [P < 0.05]) and a 20% increase in mean latency time were observed. Maintenance of adequate distal perfusion may permit the use of peripheral evoked potentials in the assessment of spinal cord ischemia during aortic cross-clamping. Our results indicate that the persistence of spinal cord stimulation evoked potentials portends good neurologic outcome in this high-risk group of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-695
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992


  • Complications: paralysis; spinal cord injury
  • Monitoring, spinal cord: somatosensory evoked potentials; spinal cord stimulation evoked potentials
  • Surgery: thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Techniques, spinal: cerebrospinal fluid drainage; epidural electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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