What Is IONM?
Intraoperative neurophysiologic monitoring (IONM) is recognized as a crucial adjunct surgical service and has become the standard of care for high-risk surgical procedures. The valuable information of IONM allows the surgeon to avoid at-risk structures and immediately identify possible impairment. This real-time feedback allows the surgical team to intervene promptly to prevent or reduce permanent post-operative neurological deficits.
Depending on the procedure, a variety of tests can be used to measure nervous system function. Usually, IONM works by delivering electrical impulses to the nervous system and measuring their effect. To gather this information, electrodes are attached to the wrists, ankles, scalp, and sometimes to specific muscle groups, depending on the type of surgery.
A trained clinician (surgical neurophysiologist), under the supervision of a qualified IONM physician, constantly monitors the information from the tests. When significant neurophysiological change is detected, the IONM team provides immediate feedback to the surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurses who can respond quickly to minimize the chances of long-term post-operative injury.
IONM provides an extra layer of safety for both the surgeon and most importantly, protecting the patient.