ISSN 0362-1197, Human Physiology, 2017, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 391–394. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2017.
Original Russian Text © V.B. Voitenkov, A.V. Klimkin, N.V. Skripchenko, A.P. Gerasimov, A.I. Aksenova, 2017, published in Fiziologiya Cheloveka, 2017, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 42–46.
Age-Related Dynamics of the Parameters of Somatosensory Evoked
Potentials in Healthy Children
V. B. Voitenkov
*, A. V. Klimkin
, N. V. Skripchenko
, A. P. Gerasimov
, and A. I. Aksenova
Pediatric Research and Clinical Center for Infectious Diseases, St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russia
Received April 27, 2016
Abstract—The purpose of this study was to evaluate the parameters of somatosensory evoked potentials
(SSEPs) in healthy children of different age groups (n = 94). The amplitudes of the main cortical peaks and
the central sensory conduction time (CSCT) from n. medianus and n. tibialis in children aged under
12 months, 1–12 years, and 12–17 years were estimated and compared. No significant cortical peaks were
recorded from the tibial nerve in five children younger than 1 year (5 out of 23, 22%). Significant differences
in CSCT were observed between the children younger than 1 year and two other groups. The amplitudes did
not significantly differ between the groups. Thus, SSEPs may be used for the evaluation of somatosensory
pathways in children aged one month to 17 years. CSCT differs significantly between children younger than
1 year and other age groups. Age-related reduction in CSCT and elevation of the cortical peak amplitudes
may ref lect the myelination of somatosensory pathways and the improvement in nervous system integration.
Keywords: somatosensory evoked potentials, normal values, children
Objective investigation of the somatosensory sys-
tem in children is characterized by high complexity
due to insufficient contact with a patient and, some-
times, his or her inability to objectively assess and
express their perceptions. Under these conditions, an
important role is played by the study of somatosensory
evoked potentials (SSEPs) . SSEPs reflect the
functioning of the somatosensory system and can be
recorded even in preterm newborns. Nevertheless, in
infants, the absence or marked asymmetry of the
SSEP components may reflect a physiological delay in
the myelination of somatosensory pathways rather
than a pathological situation.
Among the newborns with no SSEP recorded,
repeated examination two or three months later
revealed them in 80% . The development of the
somatosensory system and a relevant change in the
SSEP parameters in full-term infants are considered
to occur most rapidly in the first three weeks of life .
In newborns, generation of spontaneous activity of the
somatosensory cortex mainly occurs due to an activa-
tion of sensory systems on the periphery , i.e., in
response to a stimulus.
At present, somatosensory evoked potentials are
most often used in children in the framework of intra-
operative monitoring where their high information
value has been confirmed by recently conducted large-
scale studies [4, 5]. SSEP are also used with a prognos-
tic purpose in neonatology, in particular, for predict-
ing unfavorable outcomes in preterm neonates with an
extremely low body mass [6, 7].
As distinct from the well-studied and established
normative SSEP parameter values in adults, these data
for children differ in various centers . Age-related
shortening of the SSEP cortical peak latencies is indi-
cated in the literature , but there is no general con-
sensus on the dynamics of the amplitude parameters of
short-latency evoked potentials in children . In
some works, no numerical data that allow comparison
with the values obtained are provided . A higher
SSEP cortical peak amplitude is reported in healthy
children compared to healthy adults .
International recommendations on clinical neuro-
physiology propose that every laboratory determine its
group of reference values; data comparison between
laboratories is only possible under the conditions of
exact repetition of the study procedure, including the
SSEP current strength, stimulation frequency, and the
arrangement of recording electrodes [1, 8].
The aim of this study was to look into somatosen-
sory evoked potentials in healthy children whose ages
varied between 1 month and 17 years.
The study of somatosensory evoked potentials was
conducted in healthy children at the Pediatric