I have a relatively routine spinal surgery coming up and my doctor wants it to be monitored with intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring. Should I do that and is it necessary?

Your doctor is probably the best person to make that decision. He or she can help you weigh the risks and rewards of not only having the surgery done, but also having the procedure monitored while it is being done. Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring involves the monitoring of the nervous system using electrodes and other methods during surgery, which can help reduce the risk of complications, particularly during delicate surgeries.

A recent study of low risk spinal surgeries, such as decompression and spinal fusion, found that intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring significantly reduced the rate of neurologic complications when compared with patients who were not monitored. Critics claim that monitoring is not necessary for simple, straightforward procedures and that it has been overused, which can increase the cost of surgeries.

The study found that monitoring can actually save health care costs in the long run, when considering how much fewer complications there are when a surgery is monitored. Complications are reduced by almost half when the surgery is monitored.

Many patients are unaware that intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring exists. When the patients become aware that it is an option, many opt for it. However, like any other procedure it is not without risks. Typically, the greatest risk is not from the monitoring itself, but from the complications that may result if it is not performed correctly. If not performed correctly, the surgeon may proceed as if the surgery is being properly monitored and serious complications could result.

If you or a loved one has been harmed during a surgery that was being monitored by intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring, call me, Conal Doyle, IONM attorney. I have experience in handling IONM malpractice cases and may be able to help. Call today at 310-385-0567 to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.