A team of researchers at the University of California and Oregon Health and Science University developed a microelectrode array together. It can monitor electrophysiology during spinal surgery very precisely. The work has been published in the Journal of Science Translational Medicine.
What is spinal surgery?
It is a delicate operation in which surgeons are supposed to fix the spine without damaging the nerves because it can lead to impairments. One of the most concerning spinal surgeries is tumour removal. Moreover, performing biopsies is equally risky.
Intraoperative neuromonitoring devices are used by spinal surgeons to monitor the nervous system’s electrical activity. The device is placed on the scalp and back muscles. However, the precision of this device is not a lot, which most surgeons need. Hence, researchers have tried to improve the system by making a device for precise electrophysiology monitoring during surgery.
2D Maps of Spinal Electrophysiology
The new device comprises multiple electrodes that are placed directly onto the spinal column near the site of the surgery. Moreover, the electrodes detect the spinal nerve’s electrophysical responses, transmitting them to the computer, which converts them to a submillimeter precision 2D map. Other than that, the surgeon can consult this 2D map in real-time while they carry out the surgical procedure.
The device was tested by the researcher through six procedures on volunteers. The results were very promising, and they found that the sensitivity of their device is higher than the currently available devices. Moreover, the new device also outperformed in assisting surgeons during spinal surgery.
However, the device needs to be tested more before being submitted for approval. But the researchers are confident their system will be accurate and prevent future neural damage. Moreover, they also claim that their device can monitor the healing progress in patients with damaged spinal columns.