Scalp somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) and spinal evoked potentials (SpEP) were simultaneously recorded from the exposed surface of the upper cervical cord after median nerve stimulation in five patients undergoing surgery for upper cervical neurinomas. Two of the neurinomas were localized at C1 nerve root, two at C2, and one at C3. All patients showed good postsurgical recovery, suggesting that the tumors had not progressed to the stage where most of the nerve fibers were irreparably damaged. In patients with unaffected superficial and deep skin sensation, both SEP and SpEP were normal. In patients with more advanced tumor, the superficial sensation was abnormal but the deep skin sensation was intact. In these patients, the action potential propagation slowed down but continued partially through the tumor site on the relatively less affected side contralateral to the tumor; however, it stopped at the site of the tumor on the ipsilateral side. It is possible that full functional recovery becomes more difficult during the next stage of tumor development when the propagation of action potentials ceases bilaterally. The intraoperative monitoring of both SEP and SpEP thus appears useful for inferring details of functional integrity and prognosis of the spinal cord near a space-occupying tumor during the critical first two stages of neoplasm in which the spinal function is normal, or a sufficiently large fraction of ascending and descending nerve fibers are functionally suppressed, but are capable of recovery after a surgical intervention.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Physiology (medical)