Somatosensory Evoked Potential Testing (SSEP)
Somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) testing evaluates the function of the central nervous system through nerve pathways that travel through the spine to the somatosensory region of the brain. Somatosensory literally translates into “body” (somato) and “reception and transmission of sense impression” (sensory). These tests are performed to evaluate and detect spinal cord injuries and disease, neuromuscular diseases and other conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
During the SSEP procedure, electrodes are attached to different areas of the arms and legs along the nerve pathway to the brain, as well as on the scalp. Once in place, small electrical currents are applied to the skin in the targeted area. The electrodes then record the body’s nerve responses to these currents. Responses are analyzed by a special computer and then further interpreted by your doctor.
SSEP’s demonstrate the function of the nerve fibers, rather than the anatomical structure. Thus, patients with persistent complaints, especially radicular symptoms, yet with negative findings on X-ray, CT or MRI will often exhibit positive sensory nerve deficits with SSEP testing.
SSEP’s will help in determining the segmental level of the abnormality, allowing the treating physician to be selective in the level of care.
SSEP aids in the evaluation of:
- Herniated Disks
- Spinal Cord
- Spinal Trauma
- Burning Sensations
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Brachial Plexus
- Lumbar Plexus
- Plexus stretch injury
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Evaluation of the peripheral nervous system
- Evaluation of cervical or low back pain
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Brachial Neuritis