Diagnostic use of dermatomal somatosensory-evoked potentials in spinal disorders: Case series

J Spinal Cord Med. 2013 Nov;36(6):672-8. doi: 10.1179/2045772313Y.0000000107. Epub 2013 May 8.


OBJECTIVE/CONTEXT: Dermatomal somatosensory-evoked potentials (dSEPs) may be valuable for diagnostic purposes in selected cases with spinal disorders.

Design: Reports on cases with successful use of dSEPs.

Findings: Cases 1 and 2 had lesions causing multiple root involvement (upper to middle lumbar region in Case 1 and lower sacral region in Case 2). Cystic lesions in both cases seemed to compress more than one nerve root, and stimulation at the center of the involved dermatomes in dSEPs helped to reveal the functional abnormality. Cases 3 and 4 had lesions involving the spinal cord with or without nerve root impairment. In Case 3, an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-verified lesion seemed to occupy a considerable volume of the lower spinal cord, causing only very restricted clinical sensory and motor signs. In Case 4, a cervical MRI showed a small well-circumscribed intramedullary lesion at right C2 level. All neurophysiological investigations were normal in the latter two patients (motor, tibial, and median somatosensory-evoked potentials in Case 3, and electromyography in both) except for the dSEPs.

Conclusions: Objectifying the presence and degree of sensory involvement in spinal disorders may be helpful for establishing diagnoses and in therapeutic decision-making. Valuable information could be provided by dSEPs in selected patients with multiple root or spinal cord involvement.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / physiopathology*