Antoine Tohmeh, Cheri Somers, Kelli Howell

May 2022, pp 1 - 9 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07224-9

First Online: 09 May 2022


To assess whether saphenous somatosensory-evoked potentials (saphSSEP) monitoring may provide predictive information of femoral nerve health during prone lateral interbody fusion (LIF) procedures.


Intraoperative details were captured prospectively in consecutive prone LIF surgeries at a single institution. Triggered electromyography was used during the approach; saphSSEP was monitored throughout using a novel system that enables acquisition of difficult signals and real-time actionable feedback facilitating intraoperative intervention. Postoperative neural function was correlated with intraoperative findings.


Fifty-nine patients (58% female, mean age 64, mean BMI 32) underwent LIF at 95 total levels, inclusive of L4-5 in 76%, fixated via percutaneous pedicle screws (81%) or lateral plate, with direct decompression in 39%. Total operative time averaged 149 min. Psoas retraction time averaged 16 min/level. Baseline SSEPs were unreliable in 3 due to comorbidities in 2 and anesthesia in 1; one of those resulted in transient quadriceps weakness, fully recovered at 6 weeks. In 25/56, no saphSSEP changes occurred, and none had postoperative femoral nerve deficits. In 24/31 with saphSSEP changes, responses recovered intraoperatively following intervention, with normal postoperative function in all but one with delayed quadriceps weakness, improved at 4 months and recovered at 9 months, and a second with transient isolated anterior thigh numbness. In the remaining 7/31, saphSSEP changes persisted to close, and resulted in 2 transient isolated anterior thigh numbness and 2 combined sensory and motor femoral nerve deficits, both resolved at between 4 and 8 months.


SaphSSEP was reliably monitored in most cases and provided actionable feedback that was highly predictive of neurological events during LIF.

Level of evidence

Diagnostic: individual cross-sectional studies with consistently applied reference standard and blinding.

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