Delayed variations in the diagnostic accuracy of intraoperative neuromonitoring in the resection of intramedullary spinal cord tumors

Gil Kimchi, Nachshon Knoller, Akiva Korn, Yahel Eyal-Mazuz, Yechiam Sapir, Anton Peled, Ran Harel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE The use of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) has become an imperative adjunct to the resection of intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs). While the diagnostic utility of IONM during the immediate postoperative period has been previously studied, its long-term diagnostic accuracy has seldom been thoroughly assessed. The aim of this study was to evaluate long-term variations in the diagnostic accuracy of transcranial motor evoked potentials (tcMEPs), somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs), and D-wave recordings during IMSCT excision. METHODS The authors performed a retrospective evaluation of imaging studies, patient charts, operative reports, and IONM recordings of patients who were operated on for gross-total or subtotal resection of IMSCTs at a single institution between 2012 and 2018. Variations in the specificity, sensitivity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) for postoperative functional outcome (McCormick Scale) were analyzed at postoperative day 1 (POD1), 6 weeks postoperatively (PO-6 weeks), and at the latest follow-up. RESULTS Overall, 28 patients were included. The mean length of follow-up was 19 ± 23.4 months. Persistent motor attenuations occurred in 71.4% of the cohort. MEP was the most sensitive modality (78.6%, 87.5%, and 85.7% sensitivity at POD1, PO-6 weeks, and last follow-up, respectively). The specificity of the D-wave was the most consistent over time (100%, 83.35%, and 90% specificity at the aforementioned time points). The PPV of motor recordings decreased over time (58% vs 33% and 100% vs 0 for tcMEP and D-wave at POD1 and last follow-up, respectively), while their NPV consistently increased (67% vs 89% and 70% vs 100% for tcMEP and D-wave at POD1 and last follow-up, respectively). CONCLUSIONS The diagnostic accuracy of IONM in the resection of IMSCTs varies during the postoperative period. The decrease in the PPV of motor recordings over time suggests that this method is more predictive of short-term rather than long-term neurological deficits. The increasing NPV of motor recordings indicates a higher diagnostic accuracy in the identification of patients who preserve neurological function, albeit with an increased proportion of false-negative alarms for the immediate postoperative period. These variations should be considered in the surgical decision-making process when weighing the risk of resection-associated neurological injury against the implications of incomplete tumor resection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalNeurosurgical Focus
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • intramedullary tumors
  • intraoperative neuromonitoring
  • spine oncology


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