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Comparison between sevoflurane/remifentanil and propofol/remifentanil anaesthesia in providing conditions for somatosensory evoked potential monitoring during scoliosis corrective surgery

Departments of Anaesthesiology and Orthopaedic and Tramatology, Duchess of Kent Children’'s Hospital, Hong Kong


Somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) monitoring is an important tool in spinal corrective surgery. Anaesthesia has a significant influence on SSEP monitoring and a technique which has the least and shortest suppressant effect on SSEP while facilitating a fast recovery from anaesthesia is ideal. We compared the effect of sevoflurane/remifentanil and propofol/remifentanil anaesthesia on SSEPs during scoliosis corrective surgery and assessed patients’ clinical recovery profiles.
Twenty patients with idiopathic scoliosis receiving surgical correction with intraoperative SSEP monitoring were prospectively randomised to receive sevoflurane/remifentanil anaesthesia or propofol/remifentanil anaesthesia. During surgery, changes in anaesthesia dose and physiological variables were recorded, while SSEP was continuously monitored. A simulated ‘wake-up’ test was performed postoperatively to assess speed and quality of recovery from anaesthesia.
The effects of propofol and sevoflurane resulted in SSEP amplitude variability between 18.0%±3.5% to 28.7%±5.9% and SSEP latency variability within 1.3%±0.4% to 2.6%±1.2%. Patients receiving sevoflurane had faster suppression and faster recovery of SSEP amplitude compared to propofol (P <0.05), although propofol anaesthesia showed less within-patient variability in Cz amplitude and latency (P <0.05). On cessation of anaesthesia, time to eye-opening (5.2 vs. 16.5 minutes) and toe movement (5.4 vs. 17.4 minutes) was shorter following sevoflurane (all P <0.05).
These findings indicate that propofol produces a better SSEP signal than sevoflurane. However, adjustments in sevoflurane concentration result in faster changes in the SSEP signal than propofol. Assessment of neurological function was facilitated more rapidly after sevoflurane anaesthesia.

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