Optical monitoring and detection of spinal cord ischemia

Rickson C. Mesquita, Angela D'Souza, Thomas V. Bilfinger, Robert M. Galler, Asher Emanuel, Steven S. Schenkel, Arjun G. Yodh, Thomas F. Floyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Spinal cord ischemia can lead to paralysis or paraparesis, but if detected early it may be amenable to treatment. Current methods use evoked potentials for detection of spinal cord ischemia, a decades old technology whose warning signs are indirect and significantly delayed from the onset of ischemia. Here we introduce and demonstrate a prototype fiber optic device that directly measures spinal cord blood flow and oxygenation. This technical advance in neurological monitoring promises a new standard of care for detection of spinal cord ischemia and the opportunity for early intervention. We demonstrate the probe in an adult Dorset sheep model. Both open and percutaneous approaches were evaluated during pharmacologic, physiological, and mechanical interventions designed to induce variations in spinal cord blood flow and oxygenation. The induced variations were rapidly and reproducibly detected, demonstrating direct measurement of spinal cord ischemia in real-time. In the future, this form of hemodynamic spinal cord diagnosis could significantly improve monitoring and management in a broad range of patients, including those undergoing thoracic and abdominal aortic revascularization, spine stabilization procedures for scoliosis and trauma, spinal cord tumor resection, and those requiring management of spinal cord injury in intensive care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere83370
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 16 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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