Clinical evoked potentials in neurology: a review of techniques and indications

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Abstract

Evoked potentials (EPs) are a powerful and cost-effective tool for evaluating the integrity and function of the central nervous system. Although imaging techniques, such as MRI, have recently become increasingly important in the diagnosis of neurological diseases, over the past 30 years, many neurologists have continued to employ EPs in specific clinical applications. This review presents an overview of the recent evolution of ‘classical’ clinical applications of EPs in terms of early diagnosis and disease monitoring and is an extension of a previous review published in this journal in 2005 by Walsh and collaborators. We also provide an update on emerging EPs based on gustatory, olfactory and pain stimulation that may be used as clinically relevant markers of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cortical or peripheral impaired pain perception. EPs based on multichannel electroencephalography recordings, known as high-density EPs, help to better differentiate between healthy subjects and patients and, moreover, they provide valuable spatial information regarding the site of the lesion. EPs are reliable disease-progression biomarkers of several neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating disorders. Overall, EPs are excellent neurophysiological tools that will expand standard clinical practice in modern neurology.

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