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Anesthesiology. 1996 Nov;85(5):1013-9.

Effects of isoflurane and desflurane on neurogenic motor- and somatosensory-evoked potential monitoring for scoliosis surgery.

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Département d'Anesthésie-Réanimation Chirurgicale, Hôtel-Dieu, Nantes, France.



Most techniques used to monitor spinal cord tracts are sensitive to the effects of anesthesia, particularly to volatile anesthetic agents. The aim of this prospective study was to show that evoked potentials recorded from the peripheral nerves after spinal cord stimulation, so-called neurogenic motor evoked potentials, are resistant to clinical concentrations of isoflurane or desflurane, compared with somatosensory-evoked potentials.


Twenty-three patients were studied during surgery to correct scoliosis. The background anesthetic consisted of a continuous infusion of propofol. Isoflurane (n = 12) or desflurane (n = 11) were then introduced to achieve 0.5 and 1.0 end-tidal minimum alveolar concentrations (MAC), both in 50% oxygen-nitrous oxide and in 100% oxygen. Somatosensory-evoked potentials were elicited and recorded using a standard method, defining cortical P40 and subcortical P29. Neurogenic motor-evoked potentials were elicited by electric stimulation of the spinal cord via needle electrodes placed by the surgeon in the rostral part of the surgical field. Responses were recorded from needle electrodes inserted in the right and left popliteal spaces close to the sciatic nerve. Stimulus intensity was adjusted to produce a supramaximal response; that is, an unchanged response in amplitude with subsequent increases in stimulus intensity. Measurements were obtained before introducing volatile agents and 20 min after obtaining a stable level of each concentration.


Isoflurane and desflurane in both 50% oxygen-nitrous oxide and 100% oxygen were associated with a significant decrease in the amplitude and an increase in the latency of the cortical P40, whereas subcortical P29 latency did not vary significantly. Typical neurogenic motor-evoked potentials were obtained in all patients without volatile anesthetic agents, consisting of a biphasic wave, occurring 15 to 18 ms after stimulation, with an amplitude ranging from 1.3 to 4.1 microV. Latency or peak-to-peak amplitude of this wave was not significantly altered with isoflurane and desflurane, either in the presence or in the absence of nitrous oxide.


Compared with cortical somatosensory-evoked potentials, neurogenic motor-evoked potential signals are well preserved in patients undergoing surgery to correct scoliosis under general anesthesia supplemented with isoflurane or desflurane in concentrations as great as 1 MAC.

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