Knowledge about post-anoxic somatosensory evoked potentials − present or not?

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Background and purpose:

Median nerve somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) recordings play an important role in outcome algorithms in comatose patients after cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Knowledge of technical difficulties, clinical implications and uniform interpretation of SEP recordings is crucial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the skills of neurologists to interpret SEP recordings in post-anoxic patients.


Nationwide Dutch clinical neurophysiology examinations from 2007, 2008 and 2011, containing SEP related questions, were analysed. Participants were classified as neurology residents, neurologists with less than 10 years of experience, neurologists with more than 10 years of experience and clinical neurophysiologists. End-points were the knowledge of all participants about SEP recordings per year as well as improvement in knowledge over the years, as reflected by the test scores.


A total of 194 participants completed the examination in 2007, 200 in 2008 and 263 in 2011. Between 2007 and 2008, all groups of respondents showed a significant increase in percentage of correct answers to SEP questions. Sixty-six participants completed all three examinations. The SEP score of this group improved in 2008 [75%, interquartile range (IQR) 50–75, P < 0.001] compared with 2007 (38%, IQR 38−50); there was no further improvement in 2011 (69%, IQR 54−77).


Continuing education about technical knowledge, possible pitfalls and interpretation of SEP recordings remains of utmost importance.

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