Intraoperative Monitoring (IOM) of the Nerves

Millions of people suffer from chronic pain. The pain can be so severe it interferes with a person’s ability to do normal activities of daily living. Comprehensive Pain Specialists are a group of physicians who, along with their staff, work to identify the cause of the pain and to develop care plans to treat and alleviate the pain as much as possible.

Sometimes, diagnostic procedures are required before treatment can be instituted. At other times, after a series of diagnostic tests and noninvasive treatments, surgery may be required. Depending on the operative procedure, intraoperative monitoring (IOP) may be required during the actual surgical process in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

In some situations, pain is caused by pressure on nerves in the spinal column. This is most common with head, neck and shoulder pain or hip, leg and knee pain. IOM is a process where, during surgery, the nervous system, particularly the specific nerve root, is monitored. Any changes in nerve function are immediately reported to the operating surgeon who can make a correction before any permanent nerve damage occurs.

There is no special preparation for patients when a surgeon decides to use IOM during the surgical procedure. Since surgery is involved, the usual precautions about not eating or drinking prior to surgery apply, not because of the IOM, but because of the surgery.

The Procedure
Patients are sedated with a general anesthesia. Before the actual surgical procedure begins, but after the patient is asleep, electrodes are placed under the skin along the nerve pathway relevant to the body part that is being operated on.

The electrodes are hooked up to a computer. The electrode is briefly activated and stimulates the nerve or nerves in question. Depending on the nature of the nerve reaction, the surgeon can tell if the nerve is responding appropriately.

If there are problems, the surgeon can take immediate corrective measures. For example, if nerves are damaged during the drilling of bone in the spinal column, decompression surgeries or inserting hardware, a signal will sound to alert the surgeon so a change can be made and nerve and tissue damage avoided.

There are several different types of monitoring available. The surgeon and physician, who will be doing the surgery and providing the IOM, will both discuss with each patient the specific method that will be used. They will also explain in more detail how the process will work depending on the nature of the surgical procedure.

There are no risks to the use of IOM. There may be some tenderness and slight bruising in the area where the needles were inserted, but these will disappear within a few days. Any risks that may be associated with the specific surgical procedure will be explained to patients. The use of IOM actually makes the operative procedure safer since it reduces the risk of nerve damage.

Review and reports
After patients recover from the anesthesia, the surgeon will explain to them what occurred during the procedure and exactly what it is the surgeon discovered and repaired. The surgeon will explain whether there are any limitations to activity, how long the recovery period is expected to last and specific post-operative care, such as prescribing pain medications. The fact that IOM was used will not affect postoperative care or expectations.

With over 54 locations in the States of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, find out why Comprehensive Pain Specialists is best suited for all of your diagnostic testing, pain management needs and nerve monitoring requirements.

If you are experiencing chronic pain, particularly pain that seems to radiate from your spine and down your legs or arms, in your neck or shoulder, have your referring physician contact us to schedule your appointment. If surgery is anticipated, we work with your surgeon who will use IOM which will reduce risks of nerve damage during the operative procedure.

CPS is an In-Network Provider with Most Insurance Companies

A self-pay option is available for uninsured patients only.