Electromyographic monitoring and its anatomical implications in minimally invasive spine surgery

Juan S. Uribe, Fernando Vale Diaz, Elias Dakwar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Study design.: Literature review. Objective.: The objective of this article is to examine current intraoperative electromyography (EMG) neurophysiologic monitoring methods and their application in minimally invasive techniques. We will also discuss the recent application of EMG and its anatomic implications to the minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach to the spine. Summary of background data.: Minimally invasive techniques require that the same goals of surgery be achieved, with the hope of decreased morbidity to the patient. Unlike standard open procedures, direct visualization of the anatomy is decreased. To increase the safety of minimally invasive spine surgery, neurophysiological monitoring techniques have been developed. Methods.: Review of the literature was performed using the National Center for Biotechnology Information databases using PUBMED/MEDLINE. All articles in the English language discussing the use of intraoperative EMG monitoring and minimally invasive spine surgery were reviewed. The role of EMG monitoring in special reference to the minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach is also described. Results.: In total, 76 articles were identified that discussed the role of neuromonitoring in spine surgery. The majority of articles on EMG and spine surgery discuss the use of intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring (IOM) for safe and accurate pedicle screw placement. In general, there is a paucity of literature that pertains to intraoperative EMG neuromonitoring and minimally invasive spine surgery. Recently, EMG has been used during minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach to the lumbar spine for interbody fusion. The addition of EMG to the lateral approach has contributed to decrease the complication rate from 30% to less than 1%. Conclusion.: In minimally invasive approaches to the spine, the use of EMG IOM might provide additional safety, such as percutaneous pedicle screw placement, where visualization is limited compared with conventional open procedures. In addition to knowledge of the anatomy and image guidance, directional EMG IOM is crucial for safe passage through the psoas muscle during the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S368-S374
Issue numberSUPPL. 26S
StatePublished - Dec 15 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • electromyography (EMG)
  • extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF)
  • lumbar plexus
  • minimally invasive
  • neuromonitoring
  • psoas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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