What is SSEP?

SSEP: Somatosensory Evoked Potentials

The somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEP) asses the sensory pathway from arms and legs to the brain, through the spinal cord. Thus, any lesion or anomaly present in the trajectory of the sensory pathways will decrease or abolish the signals received in the brain (cortex).

This test is done in a doctor's office or hospital, mainly in the operating room (OR). To trigger the sensory signals, a pair of lectrodes are attached to the skin over a sensory nerve (generally the posterior tibial nerve, in the leg, or on the ulnar nerve, in the arm.

These electrodes apply an electrical pulse that causes the nerve to send the neural signal up to the brain, through the spinal cord. Several needle electrodes are placed on the scalp, and will receive the neural signals, which can be seen in the computer screen.

This test is one of the modalities utilized to monitor a spinal surgery. Any modification help the surgeon to change the surgical maneuver and prevent a permanent lesion in the spinal cord.


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