Operative Neurological Complications Resulting From Thoracic and Lumbar Spine Internal Fixation

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Of 2023 patients treated for acute spinal injuries, 729 sustained acute injuries in thoracic and lumbar regions; 295 surgically treated patients were reviewed for evidence of postoperative neurological complications. Of the 295 patients, 150 were intraoperatively monitored using somatosensoryevoked potentials (SSEP). Six patients (4%) revealed intraoperative deterioration of the SSEP; however, only one of the six revealed a new postoperative neurological deficit (0.7%). The remaining 145 patients were included in the unmonitored or wake-up test group in which ten (6.9%) demonstrated new postoperative deficits. Of the 11 patients with new postoperative neurological deficits, eight patients demonstrated motor weakness, two had radiculopathy, and one had bowel-bladder incontinence. The intraoperative use of SSEP was not able to identify subtle alterations in neurological function; however, due to early warning, SSEP appears capable of preventing profound surgically induced neurological alterations. A new protocol is designed for the management of intraoperative neurological deterioration as detected by SSEP.

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