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Neurophysiological intraoperative monitoring in neurosurgery: aid or handicap? An international survey.

by Mario Cabraja, Florian Stockhammer, Sven Mularski, Olaf Suess, Theodoros Kombos, Peter Vajkoczy
Neurosurgical focus ()
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OBJECT: Neurophysiological intraoperative monitoring (IOM) is regarded as a useful tool to provide information about physiological changes during surgery in eloquent areas of the nervous system, to increase safety and reduce morbidity. Nevertheless, numerous older studies report that very few patients benefit from IOM, and that there are high rates of false-positive and false-negative changes of neurophysiological parameters during surgery. There is an ongoing discussion about the effectiveness of neurophysiological IOM. This questionnaire study was performed to evaluate the attitude of neurosurgeons toward neurophysiological IOM and the availability of this tool. METHODS: One hundred fifty neurosurgeons from 60 institutions in 16 countries were asked to answer anonymously a questionnaire with 11 questions. The questionnaire covered aspects of personal experience, the neurosurgical institution, and availability of neurophysiological IOM as well as asking the surgeon's opinion of the procedure. RESULTS: One hundred nine questionnaires were returned (73%). Seven questionnaires were excluded because of failure to complete the form correctly or completely, leaving 102 respondents from 44 institutions in 16 countries in the study; 79.5% of the included institutions provided neurophysiological IOM. Young neurosurgeons did not put more trust in IOM than experienced neurosurgeons. With growing IOM experience, surgeons seem to allow less influence of the findings on the course of their operation. At large institutions in which > 1500 operations per year are done, IOM is performed by the neurosurgeons themselves in most cases. In institutions with fewer operations, the IOM team consists mostly of nonneurosurgeons. Regardless of the availability of neurophysiological IOM, all surgeons stated that IOM is gaining increasing importance. CONCLUSIONS: Neurophysiological IOM represents an established tool in neurosurgery. Although the importance of IOM is emphasized by the majority of neurosurgeons, the relevance of this tool to the course of the operation changes with increasing neurophysiological IOM experience.

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