Intraoperative Monitoring (IOM) of the Nerves

This technique is used during complex surgical procedures, especially those that involve manipulation of the spinal cord. IOM allows a neurotechnologist to monitor the health of the nervous system in real time during surgery. This greatly reduces the risk of surgery-related nerve damage.

How does it work?

A series of electrodes, both surface and subdermal, are attached to the body. Each patient may have different electrodes and arrangements based upon the individual’s surgery and condition. Nerve pathways are monitored by sending electrical impulses between stimulating and receiving electrodes and measuring the speed and intensity of the signals. If signal responses differ from established standards, the surgeon can quickly identify the problem (such as compressed or stretched nerve). If needed, a correction can be made before damage becomes permanent.

There are three types of intraoperative monitory. The neurotechnologist uses the MEP (Motor Evoked Potentials) technique to monitor signals traveling from the brain to certain muscle groups. The SSEP/DEPS (Somatosensory Evoked Potentials/Dermatome Evoked Potentials) technique is used to monitor signals traveling from specific sensory areas to the brain. Finally, the EMG (Electromyography) is used to monitor signals within specific muscle groups during surgeries to parts of the spine that those muscles serve.