Our clinical scientists (sometimes known as surgical neurophysiologists) perform intraoperative neuromonitoring during surgeries where there is a risk of nerve damage, for example, scoliosis spinal correction surgery, by working closely with surgeons and anesthetists.
This type of monitoring involves measuring specific signals inside your body very closely, throughout your surgery. The signals we monitor belong to two pathways:
- The motor pathway – signals sent from your brain to your muscles.
- The sensory pathway – signals sent from different parts of your body to the brain.
If you have epilepsy, previous seizures or an implantable device.
It’s important to let your surgeon, doctor or healthcare professionals looking after you know that you may have epilepsy, previous seizures or have been fitted with an implantable device.
How do we monitor these pathways?
We will place electrodes at specific sites on your head, arms, and legs. However, you will not notice or feel this as you will be asleep throughout our monitoring and your surgery. After the operation we will remove these electrodes before you wake up from your surgery. You may notice some small sore areas where the needle electrodes have been in your scalp, arms or legs.
To monitor the motor pathway, we send a small electrical signal into your brain that then travels down your spine. We then listen for this signal using the electrodes that we have placed on the body. The quality of the signal we have listened for provides us with the information about the motor pathway.
To monitor the sensor pathway, we send a small electrical signal from a part of your body, for example, your feet, and listen for the signal sent to the brain by using the electrodes we have placed on your scalp. Again, like the motor pathway, the quality of the signal we are listening for provides us with the information about the sensory pathway.
What do we do with the information we get from signals?
If the quality of the signal has changed, or by using our training and judgement, the signal isn’t what we are expecting, we alert the surgeon and the anesthetist who then perform interventions required to resolve the cause of the change.