Intraoperative neuromonitoring for one-level lumbar discectomies is low yield and cost-ineffective

Katie L. Krause, Barry Cheaney, James T. Obayashi, Aaron Kawamoto, Khoi D. Than

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Intraoperative neuromonitoring is a common, well-established modality used in spine surgery to prevent intraoperative neural injury. Neuromonitoring use in lumbar discectomy, however, is based on surgeon preference, without evidence-based data. The purpose of this research was to determine intraoperative utility and overall cost effectiveness of neuromonitoring for lumbar discectomy. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed adult patients who underwent a lumbar discectomy, with at least 1 month of follow-up at a single tertiary care center. Patient age, sex, body mass index (BMI), lumbar level operated, and operative time and cost were collected. Neuromonitoring and operative reports were reviewed for any electromyography (EMG) abnormalities noted intraoperatively, pre- and post-operative motor exam and post-operative pain relief were collected. Results: Ninety-one (47 with and 44 without neuromonitoring) lumbar discectomy cases were reviewed. There was no significant difference between mean age, sex, and BMI between the two groups. There was a significant (p = 0.006) increase in operating room time (174 min; with vs. 144 min; without neuromonitoring). Neuromonitoring was associated with a significant (p = 0.006) overall operative cost ($21,949; with vs. $18,064; without). Of the 47 cases with neuromonitoring; one had abnormal intraoperative EMG activity, which returned to normal by case conclusion. No patient in either group demonstrated new post-operative motor weakness. There was no difference in the number of patients who endorsed post-operative pain relief between the two groups. Conclusions: Neuromonitoring for lumbar discectomy confers greater operative time and cost, without any difference in neurological outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-100
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Intraoperative
  • Lumbar discectomy
  • Neuromonitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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