One hundred consecutive patients were monitored using somatosensory-evoked potential (SEP) monitoring to detect intraoperative sciatic nerve compromise during total hip arthroplasty. The peroneal nerve was stimulated using the contralateral extremity to rule out systemic influences on the SEP tracings. Loss of amplitude or an increase in latency of greater than 10% was considered significant. Of the 18 patients who exhibited changes that met these criteria, 16 were female. Two patients had loss of amplitude of the tracings at the time of closure, and both of these patients exhibited postoperative sciatic nerve palsies. There were no false negatives. Femoral reaming and reduction are the surgical events most commonly associated with nerve reactions. Patients who have had prior hip procedures appear to be at higher risk. There was no correlation with intraoperative SEP changes and age, weight, surgical approach, or leg lengthening. Compared with unmonitored patients, there was no reduction in the incidence of sciatic palsy.
Section of Orthopedic Surgery, Department of Surgery and Department of Anesthesiology, University of Kansas Medical Center Kansas City, Kansas.
Reprint requests to Frederick W. Reckling, M.D., University of Kansas Medical Center, Section of Orthopedic Surgery. 39th & Rainbow Blvds., Kansas City, KS 66103.
Received: May 1, 1989.