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Spinal Cord Monitoring in Spine and Chest Surgery Can Prevent Surgical-Related Paralysis

February 27, 2012

Cynthia L. Harden, MD

GREAT NECK, NY - Cynthia L. Harden, MD, chief, Division of Epilepsy and Electroencephalography and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Care Center  at North Shore-LIJ’s  Cushing Neuroscience Institute  has co-authored an article published in the February 21, 2012 print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

The article entitled “Evidence-based Guideline Update: Intraoperative Spinal Monitoring with Somatonsensory and Transcranial Electrical Motor Evoked Potentials,” co-authored with Dr. Harden’s colleagues from the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, recommends monitoring the spinal cord during spinal surgery and certain chest surgeries to help prevent paralysis, or loss of muscle function, related to surgeries.  According to the updated guidelines, strong evidence shows that monitoring the spinal cord during spinal surgery and certain chest surgeries, such as those performed to repair narrowing of the walls of the aorta, can help prevent paralysis related to the surgery.  Known as intraoperative monitoring, the procedure alerts the surgical team about the risk of neurologic injury so appropriate responses can be made.

“This report provides the most comprehensive and compelling evidence that intraoperative monitoring is associated with fewer catastrophic neurologic events during spinal surgery,” says Dr. Harden.  “The importance of intraoperative monitoring by a neurologist is clearly shown through the multiple studies analyzed in this publication.  Effective intraoperative monitoring is a complex procedure that requires coordination between the monitoring neurologist, surgeon, anesthesiologist and the entire surgical team.  It encompasses detected changes in the neurophysiologic studies during the operations, and then responding appropriately to protect the patient from neurologic injury.”

Dr. Harden further explains that this analysis evaluated only the most clear, serious neurologic risks from spinal surgery, which were severe weakness or paralysis on one side, in the legs only or in all four limbs.  Intraoperative monitoring reliably detected that there was a risk of these neurologic problems occurring during the operation, which makes it a valuable and useful procedure.

To learn more about this latest guideline and spinal cord injury, visit www.aan.com/go/pressroom.

 About the Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI)

The Cushing Neuroscience Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, consists of multidisciplinary clinical and research teams that provide patients with state-of-the-art treatments for the entire spectrum of neurological diseases, including brain aneurysms, AVM’s, stroke, traumatic brain injury, movement disorders, brain and spinal cord tumors, diseases of the spine, muscle and peripheral nerves, Chiari malformation, syringomyelia, neurodegenerative diseases, pain, epilepsy, and neurological diseases of infancy and childhood.  To learn more about the Cushing Neuroscience Institute and its centers of excellence, go to www.neurocni.com or call the Neuroscience Hotline at (516) 562-3822.


  • Media Contacts:

    Michelle Pipia-Stiles, Freelance Publicist
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