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J Neurosurg Spine. 2013 Sep;19(3):288-92. doi: 10.3171/2013.5.SPINE12933. Epub 2013 Jul 12.

Dynamic somatosensory evoked potentials to determine electrophysiological effects on the spinal cord during cervical spine extension: clinical article.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Spinal Injuries Center, Iizuka, Japan.



The goal of this prospective study was to investigate somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) during dynamic motion of the cervical spine and to evaluate the efficacy of analyzing dynamic SSEPs for predicting dynamic effects on the spinal cord in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).


In total, 40 human subjects (20 CSM patients and 20 healthy volunteers as a control group) were examined prospectively using dynamic SSEPs with median nerve stimulation. The CSM patients showed cervical myelopathy due to cervical cord compression at the C4-5 segment. The SSEPs were examined with the cervical spine in a neutral position and at a 20° extension for 10 and 20 minutes. Changes in the N20 latency and amplitude were determined and analyzed. The authors defined the changes in the N20 latency and N20 amplitude between the neutral and extension positions of the cervical spine as percent latency and amplitude, respectively.


In the CSM patients, SSEPs tended to deteriorate after cervical spine extension, and a statistically significant deterioration of the N20 amplitude after the extension was observed. Moreover, the percent latency and amplitude progressively increased during cervical spine extension in these patients. In the healthy controls, SSEPs tended to deteriorate with cervical spine extension, but these changes did not result in statistically significant differences. Moreover, in this group the percent latency and amplitude were almost identical during the extension. When the CSM patients and the healthy controls were compared, a significant difference in the percent amplitude was observed between the 2 groups during the cervical spine extension.


This study suggests the potential of dynamic SSEPs as a useful neurophysiological technique to detect the effect of dynamic factors on the pathogenesis of CSM.

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