AbstractOBJECTIVE:Midcervical flexion myelopathy is a rare but well-known complication of posterior fossa surgery. To reduce the risk, we routinely used somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) monitoring during positioning of the patient.METHODS:Fifty-five consecutive patients were operated on for posterior fossa lesions in the semisitting position via a median (5 patients) or a lateral (50 patients) suboccipital approach. During positioning, monitoring of SSEPs by stimulation of the tibial nerve (T-SSEP) as well as by stimulation of the median nerve (M-SSEP) was established. In the case of pronounced SSEP changes, the head was repositioned. Surgery was started after SSEP recordings were unchanged as compared to the baseline investigation.RESULTS:Effective monitoring was possible in all cases. Whereas M-SSEP recordings showed no changes while placing patients in the sitting position, T-SSEP recordings were altered in 14 cases (25%). In cases using the midline approach, SSEP changes were never so pronounced to require repositioning of the head. Head flexion and rotation resulted in significant changes of T-SSEP recordings in eight patients (14.5%), requiring repositioning. In two cases, an amplitude loss was noted. In only two of these eight patients were M-SSEP recordings markedly changed. SSEP recordings after repositioning disclosed recovery of spinal cord function. In no patient were clinical signs of myelopathy observed postoperatively.CONCLUSION:We observed a high incidence of pronounced changes of T-SSEP recordings when the patient's head was flexed and rotated for lateral suboccipital craniotomy in the semisitting position. Despite the low specificity monitoring of T-SSEPs during positioning of the patient for posterior fossa surgery, the semisitting position is strongly recommended.
Neurosurgery – Oxford University Press
Published: Jul 1, 1998
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