What are the steps involved in intraoperative monitoring of the nerves during surgery? What can I do if something goes wrong?

Intraoperative neuromonitoring, also called IONM, is a technique that is used during surgery to monitor a patient’s nervous system. IONM can help prevent damage to the nerves, brain, or spinal cord. IONM is often used during surgeries that involve the spine or the brain, because if complications occur during surgery there could be a loss of neurological function.

The first step of IONM is that electrodes are placed on the skin, or under the skin, at different locations along a nerve pathway. Those electrodes are connected to a computer, which analyzes information about the nerves being monitored. The next step is that an electrode stimulates the nerve with an electrical impulse. The impulse is very quick, and only has a small amount of electrical current.

Next, after the nerves are stimulated, the nerves activity are assessed. The other electrodes along the nerve pathway will record the amount of time it takes for electrical impulses to travel between them. Then, the speed of the signal is calculated. The signal is continuously monitored and compared to the baseline information. If the signal becomes slower and weaker, this could reveal a problem with the nerve. Therefore, if there is a change in a nerve signal response, the surgeon can quickly identify the problem and take corrective action before the nerve damage is permanent.

In most cases, IONM is a very safe way to maximize the safety of certain delicate surgical procedures. There are normally few risks or drawbacks of IONM. However, IONM is a medical procedure, and all medical procedures carry some level of risk. Call me, Conal Doyle, intraoperative monitoring malpractice attorney, if you have been injured during a surgery that was monitored with IONM. I have experience in those types of cases, and can help. Call today at 310-385-0567 to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.