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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2008 Jun 15;33(14):E465-73. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318178e67f.

Monitoring of nerve root injury using transcranial motor-evoked potentials in a pig model.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



Animal experiment using transcranial motor-evoked potentials (tcMEPs) in a pig model.


To validate measurement of tcMEPs from multiple myotomes in a pig model and determine the capacity to detect injury to a single nerve root.


The ability of intraoperative neuromonitoring methods to give information about a single nerve root remains poorly understood. Reports suggest that tcMEPs may be a reliable and accurate method to detect nerve root injury. An animal model to study the sensitivity and specificity of this technique has yet to be validated.


Transcranial stimulation was delivered through customized electrodes placed in burr holes over the motor cortex in 7 pigs. Spontaneous and evoked muscle potential activity was recorded in 5 myotomes (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, tibialis anterior, and gastrocnemius) bilaterally. After unilateral exposure of the L3-S1 nerve roots, sequential ligations were performed. The tcMEP responses from all myotomes were measured after ligation of each nerve root.


Robust MEP responses (range, 37-1165 mV) were achieved in all monitored myotomes. Significant decreases in tcMEP amplitudes occurred in specific myotomes after ligation of the corresponding nerve root. Consistent and substantial decreases were observed after L3 and L5 ligations in rectus femoris (48%) and tibialis anterior (67%), respectively.


Our results validate monitoring of tcMEPs in multiple myotomes to detect nerve root injury in pigs. This model may be used for further study of the use of tcMEPs to detect predictors and risk factors of nerve root injury during spinal surgery.

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