Scoliosis is a condition characterized by the abnormal curvature of the spine. The abnormality can be surgically corrected by fusing the affected parts of the spine so that they grow into a solid bone and do not twist. During the surgery, your doctor makes an incision to expose the spine. Using X-ray guidance, your doctor fixes rods with the help of screws or hooks to bring the spine into the correct position and stabilize it until it grows and fuses.
During scoliosis surgery, your surgeon works very close to the spinal cord. To avoid any damage to the spinal cord, your spinal cord is monitored throughout the surgery by placing electrodes to your head, shoulders, wrists, knees, and ankles. Any small change in the transfer of nerve signals along the spinal cord is indicated to your surgeon so that further care can be taken during the surgery.
Spinal monitoring can be done by:
- Somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs): nerves in the ankle and wrist are stimulated and the response is recorded through the electrodes as it travels to the brain.
- Motor evoked potentials (MEPs): the brain is stimulated to send a signal through the spinal cord, which is recorded in the muscles of arms, legs, and feet.
Like all surgical procedures, spinal cord monitoring may involve certain rare complications such as seizure, jaw fracture, skin burn, and biting injury.