Master Of Science In Surgical Neurophysiology

Last Updated on August 31, 2023

If you are looking for the best Master of Science in Surgical Neurophysiology (MS SN) programs, you should know that getting a Master of Science in Surgical Neurophysiology (MS SN) degree will allow you to work in the field of neurophysiological surgery. Neuro-physiological brain surgeries are done under local anesthesia. Before performing any surgery on the brain, it is essential that surgeons undergo proper training and education regarding all aspects of clinical neurophysiology so as to provide medical treatment under intelligent levels of neural stimulation. A Master’s degree in surgical neurophysiology will give you ample knowledge on various aspects of clinical neurophysiology so as to be able to assist during various stages of operation on spinal cord nerves.

Infolearners is a resource for those interested in studying and practicing Surgical Neurophysiology. Master of Science in Surgical Neurophysiology degree program offers you an opportunity to investigate the dynamic relationship between physiology, biology, anatomy and surgery. The program is designed to introduce students with a wide range of professional backgrounds (including medicine, biomedical engineering, otolaryngology, neurology and other health care-related fields) to spine surgery through didactic course work at an integrated program site and clinical experience at an affiliated neurosurgical practices for hands-on training; improve knowledge base of medical sciences pertinent to surgical neurophysiology; develop skills related to assessment of intraoperative neurophysiology during spine surgery under direct supervision of faculty; demonstrate mastery in skills that include surgical techniques performed on patients undergoing spinal surgery in association with other physicians who are board certified neurosurgeons

Steps To Becoming A Surgical Neurophysiologist (Guest Post)

Radiologist Training

Joe’s Notes: I don’t really ever write it after my name anymore, but I am also an OTR (Registered Occupational Therapist). If I would have stopped there, I don’t think I would have learned about becoming a surgical neurophysiologist. There was absolutely no mention of it.

After finding out more about Tom’s background in physical therapy, and knowing all the different roles he’s had in neuromonitoring, I asked him to put a post together for those in the physical therapy or occupational therapy field considering getting into the neuromonitoring field.

If you would have asked me 3 years ago to make a prediction about what neuromonitoring would look like in 2016 (even with the G0453 Code), I would have said we will start to see an influx of more OTs, PT’s and nurses.

I would have been wrong.

There are probably a couple of reasons for it:

  1. They are still in demand in their own fields.
  2. They can find some positions that are your typical 9-5pm.
  3. They’ve been hit by changes in healthcare, but probably not to the same extent as others. Chiropractors, audiologist and Ph.D.’s have found themselves in tough markets.
  4. While the average pay in IONM is probably higher, they may find value in other perks of their job vs IONM.
  5. They have large associations and more of a community presence. Throw a couple of rocks in any major city and you’ll wind up hitting a nurse in the head on your third try. That same city might have 20 surgical neurophysiologist total. It’s hard to leave your friends.
  6. The word just hasn’t made it to those folks. There is an opportunity for them, and they have a very good chance of doing well with neuromonitoring as a career.
How To Become A Surgical Neurophysiologist – College Learners

But the fact that physical therapists and occupational therapists have a great understanding of the human body, have been introduced to surgeries that they do the rehab on, and have been at least introduced to neurodiagnostic studies like nerve conduction studies and electromyography, they have a pretty solid foundation. Most companies are looking for that caliber of recruit.

Considering that this is still a growing field with new opportunities, we still might see some more PTs, OT’s and nurses. If the oversight rules change again and allow non-physician doctors to perform oversight, I’ll probably reclaim that original prediction. There are a lot more doctors in those fields than there used to be.

Thomas McGee, CNIM – How did you start in physical therapy and end up monitoring during surgery?

I am a Surgical Neurophysiologist, an IOM Tech, a glorified electrician, the guy in the corner, I even have the nickname “Twitches”, all names for the same position – I’m a guy who ‘monitors brain waves’ for a living…

First, a little bit about Intraoperative Monitoring (IOM):  Surgical neurophysiology is an exciting, ‘new’ field – one that has its roots starting from Dr. Wilder Penfield’s description of using EEG in the Operating Room (OR) in 1939 for determining the location of a seizure focus, to first describing cortical stimulation experiments which were first published in 1951, to the use of somatosensory evoked potentials being used intraoperatively in the 1970s (on one and two-channel machines!), to adding more refined and elaborate techniques in that same OR environment.  Much study has gone into refining these techniques, and we have numerous people to thank for their pioneering studies and advances in the field.

Now, a bit about me.  I am a Surgical Neurophysiologist with Sentient Medical Systems and started August 4, 2003.  I also am a Director of Training for the company as well.  My career has been filled with a variety of positions, including Clinical Manager (now called a Regional Director), and Regional Director (which is now called a Vice President of Operations).  I left a career in Physical Therapy to learn how to do monitoring, and the rewards have been more than I ever expected.

The PT background that I had I wouldn’t trade for anything.  My Physical Therapy education was filled with anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, neuroanatomy, and well orthopedic surgeries.   It is great training to apply monitoring techniques in the OR.

In the first few surgeries that I attended, and I believe this experience is true for most, that the trainee is wide-eyed trying to take everything in – the noisy environment, the quick pace of everyone, the concept of seeing a person have surgery – it’s surreal.  It’s a good idea to have an idea of what to expect before going into the operating room.  YouTube wasn’t around when I started, but it’s such a great help today!  If you are going to see a surgery, or even if surgery interests you, there are videos of just about any given orthopedic surgery (don’t do this at home!)  I remember the first time that I saw a surgeon take a Rongeur and remove a spinous process from a lumbar vertebra!  Shocking!  You soon get used to this.  The OR environment is not for the faint of heart.  A quick side notes:  There is no ‘simple surgery’.  I’ve seen procedures that are seemingly simple have complications for patients, and very complex surgeries go well for patients.

The title of this article is how I became a Surgical Neurophysiologist.  Back in those PT days, I was looking at alternative careers.  14 years in that profession took its toll on me.  I took some computer programming classes at night to build my technical background while doing PT during the day.  I took a 9-month foray into the world of computer programming and found that the environment I was in was not a healthy environment for me.  So I went back full time into Physical Therapy.  One of the therapists that I worked with was (and still is) married to a Neurologist who was the Medical Director for Sentient at the time.  The PT called me and said, I know you’re looking to get out of Physical Therapy, and you should look into this new field.  It combines several of the strengths that I have: the technical background, the patient care aspect, and also can be highly involved in surgeries.  Wow, did that sound exciting!  So, I contacted the Sentient manager who lived in the same area I was living and started talking with him about this new field.  Thanks, Amy and Don!

Over the course of a couple of months, he and I talked and talked.  I don’t know about you, but at some point, there’s enough talking – I am a visual learner.  So I asked him if I could shadow him on a case, and after the appropriate approvals were gained, we waited for the right day.  Fourth of July 2003, he called me up and said that there’s an emergent surgery where someone had fallen and broken their vertebral column.  Monitoring was requested for that surgery to ensure the integrity of the spinal cord.  I talked it over with my wife, we agreed that this was a good idea, and I went in to see the surgery.  I was hooked!

How To Become A Surgical Neurophysiologist – College Learners

Talk about eye-opening!  The fast pace of the procedure, the interactions with the surgeon and anesthesiologist, the interview with the patient prior to the procedure, the computer data collection, seeing the instrumentation placed,  – the whole deal – was quite intriguing!  If you do the math, you see that I started with Sentient a month later!  I haven’t looked back wondering about those PT days – this is the career for me!  Thanks, John for showing me the way!

One more thing, in case you are wondering, what does the ‘normal’ schedule for a Surgical Neurophysiologist look like?  In my PT days, the days were 7-4 or 8-5; regular everyday schedules, all days were the same.  In IOM, schedules are different.  The differences are due to a number of different factors, such as the monitoring volume of the area or facility in which you work, the case complexity, skill of the surgeon, other co-workers in your area, etc.

Let’s look at these factors:

  • Some areas are not as busy as other areas. There are reports of some people working three days in a given week.  Others are working all 5 days and also have overtime, or work the weekends.  There are trends in surgeries that show up on a cyclical basis, such as scoliosis season, a time just at the end of the school year (usually starting in May or early June), and allows the children to recover from their surgeries over the summer.
  • Case complexity: It’s not a surprise to think that certain surgeries take longer than others due to the amount of surgical intervention required. A one-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion on average will be shorter than a 5 level anterior/posterior cervical fusion.
  • The skill of the surgeon: I’ve been involved in one level anterior cervical fusion surgeries that have been completed in 45 minutes, or the same surgery with a different surgeon taking 8 hours. It’s more than just a surgeon being unsure.  If a patient has had a previous surgery, there’s  additional scar tissue that must be navigated safely to avoid injuring other structures, such as major blood vessels.
  • Other co-workers in your area: If you’re the only Surgical Neurophysiologist in your area, then you’re going to be involved in every surgery.  If you have others sharing the load, then you won’t be quite as busy.  There are definite business decisions that are to be addressed – ultimately, in just about every scenario, the role of having to monitor means that the company has to be at a minimum covering costs and hopefully making a profit.

Let me tell you, just in case you don’t have a Physical Therapy background (and a Physical Therapy background is NOT necessary), if this sounds like something that intrigues you, feel free to contact me, Joe, or any of the Surgical Neurophysiologists out there to find out more about the career opportunities that exist.

The path to get into this field is varied.  At the time of this writing, there is really only one bachelor’s degree program that is geared toward including Intraoperative Monitoring.  The few graduates that I’ve seen come through that program at the University of Michigan have really shined!  The second and most utilized pathway that people come into the field is by having a bachelor’s degree, preferably in neuroscience, or a higher degree (Master’s or Doctorate).  I find that Chiropractors and Audiologists are huge in the field, but in the time that I’ve managed this territory for Sentient, I’ve had an MD, RN, DC, Audiologist, EEG Tech, Paramedic, and even a hardware representative work with me, among others.  The third pathway that folks come to the field is through having another neurodiagnostic credential, such as an R. EEG. T, or R. EP. T. 

How Long Do You Have to Sue a Doctor After Surgery? | Medical Malpractice |  Ben Crump

Masters of Surgical Neurophysiology

The new Master of Science in Surgical Neurophysiology is a one-year program that will provide students with the didactic and clinical training required to become Surgical Neurophysiologist. Over the course of the Master’s program, students will gain an in-depth knowledge of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neural signal acquisition, and the application of neurophysiological measurements in the surgical environment.

In addition, students complete clinical practicum credits under the PNB 5104 course that allows them to participate in neuromonitoring of surgical cases in the operating room setting in addition to coursework. The program will prepare students to perform the duties of a neuromonitoring clinician.

After completion of the program and participation in 100 surgical cases (during or after their clinical practicum), students will be eligible to participate in the national exam for Certification in Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring (CNIM Certification) conducted by the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET). A total of 32 credits are required to complete the program.

Surgical Neurophysiology

The Master of Science in Surgical Neurophysiology is a one-year professional master’s program designed to provide students with the knowledge and clinical training required to become a board-certified Surgical Neurophysiologist. Courses in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neural signal acquisition, and the application of neurophysiological measurements in the surgical environment are covered in a year-long program of study, beginning in the summer. A total of 32 credits are required. In addition, students complete a clinical practicum. After completion of the program and participation in 100 surgical cases (during or after their clinical practicum), students will be eligible to participate in the national exam for Certification in Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring (CNIM Certification) conducted by the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET).

Requirements

The following courses are required (26 credits): PNB 5101, 5102, 5103, 5104, 5105, and 5106. In addition, students must take at least two of the following courses (six credits): PNB 3251, 3275, 4400, 5390, 6417, 6418, or 6426. Students must also complete a clinical practicum that includes a minimum of 250 clinical contact hours in mentored surgical cases.

Surgical neurophysiology, also known as intraoperative neurophysiology monitoring (IONM), is a new and growing allied health field. The surgical neurophysiologist is an integral part of the surgical team and works closely with the anesthesiologist or anesthetist, the surgeons, and other members of the team.

The neurophysiologist performs testing and monitoring of the nervous system during surgery to assist the surgeons in avoiding or reducing complications such as paralysis, hearing loss, or stroke (depending on the type of surgery), by detecting incipient injury in time to prevent or ameliorate it. Surgical neurophysiology also provides information to the surgeon for use in intraoperative decision-making.

What kinds of surgeries can be monitored? Surgical neurophysiology monitoring employs a wide variety of modalities, each with a very specific application. It is most applicable when there is a specific risk to some part of the nervous system. For some types of surgery, such as cerebellar tumors, there is no suitable monitoring technique. Some of the most commonly monitored surgeries include spinal surgery, certain types of brain surgery, some ENT procedures, peripheral nerve surgery, and vascular surgeries such as carotid endarterectomies and thoracic-abdominal aortic aneurysms (TAAA).

What testing modalities are performed in intraoperative monitoring? Many different modalities can be used in the OR. Frequently several modalities, such as SSEP, EMG, and MEP (see below) are used together in the same surgery. Some of the most widely used modalities include:

  • SSEP (Somatosensory Evoked Potentials)—the response recorded from the brain, nerve, or spinal cord to electrical stimulation of peripheral nerve. Used most often to monitor the integrity of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord during spine surgery; also used in some brain surgeries and peripheral nerve surgeries.
  • TCeMEP ( Transcranial Electrical Motor Evoked Potentials): an electrical stimulus is applied to the motor cortex of the brain, and a response recorded from the spinal cord or from limb muscles. Works like SSEP (see above), but in the opposite direction, to monitor function of the motor tracts of the spinal cord.
  • BSEP (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potentials)—an electrical response, originating in the brainstem, to an auditory stimulus, usually a click delivered through small in-the-ear earphones. Used to monitor brainstem function and to help preserve hearing in acoustic neuroma and brainstem tumor cases.
  • EMG (electromyography)—spontaneous EMG is used to detect incipient nerve damage in spine surgery (spinal nerve roots) and in skull base surgery (facial nerve and other cranial nerves). Evoked EMG, using an electrical stimulus delivered through a hand-held probe used by the surgeon, is also used to identify and test nervous structures.
  • Pedicle Screw Stimulation: evoked EMG obtained by stimulating a screw placed in part of a vertebra called the pedicle. Since a nerve root lies immediately beneath each pedicle, a response obtained at too low a stimulus intensity level indicates a breach in the pedicle. Used to avoid nerve root damage caused by such a breach.
  • EEG (Electroencephalogram)—spontaneous brain activity is recorded to monitor functional integrity of the cerebral cortex, specifically to avoid injuries caused by ischemia (reduced blood flow) during carotid endarterectomies and aneurysm clippings.
  • ECOG (Electrocorticography)—EEG recorded directly from the exposed surface of the brain to help define the borders of resection (tissue removal) in epilepsy surgeries and craniotomies for brain tumors.
  • Direct Cortical Stimulation: Also used in epilepsy and tumor surgeries, to identify and map eloquent areas of the brain (speech and motor areas)
  • TCD (Transcranial Doppler)—blood flow velocity in the internal arteries of the brain is measured using an ultrasound beam, analogous to clocking a baseball pitch with a radar gun. Used to monitor cerebral blood flow in carotid endarterectomies.

Who are surgical neurophysiologists? Surgical neurophysiology, though rapidly evolving into an established profession, began as an interdisciplinary field. Neurophysiologists come from a variety of backgrounds, including medicine (especially neurology and physiatry); audiology; neuroscience; and neurodiagnostic technology.

What kinds of credentials do neurophysiologists obtain? In addition to relevant board certification within their respective fields such as neurology, audiology, and neurodiagnostic technology, surgical neurophysiologists in the United States can obtain two kinds of certification:

Cataract Surgery: Purpose of Cataract Surgery
  • Certification in Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring (CNIM) from the American Board of Registered Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists. This is technical certification intended for technologists who work under supervision by a neurophysiologist or neurologist.
  • American Board of Neurophysiologic Monitoring (ABNM) certification. This is a professional level certification intended for neurophysiologists working independently.

What training and career opportunities are there? The American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists (ASET), and the American Society of Neurophysiological Monitoring (ASNM ), maintain job listings. ASNM’s listings are on their website, https://asnm.org; contact information for ASET is on their website, https://aset.org. Some employers offer on-the-job training programs; generally, a background in neurodiagnostic technology, neuroscience, audiology medicine, or another health profession such as nursing or physician’s assistant is helpful.

Short training programs such as weekend seminars are offered by ASNM and by ASET; also by the Larry Head Institute.

The Barrow Neurological Institute offers brief onsite training opportunities. Atlanta Institute for Clinical Neuroscience conducts a clinical training program for surgical neurophysiologists, leading to a master’s degree.

The University of Texas at Dallas offers a master’s degree program, within their Neuroscience graduate program, which includes courses by IONM pioneer Aage Moller. Some audiology graduate programs may include limited IONM training.

How did surgical neurophysiology develop? The earliest intraoperative neurophysiology was probably the famous work of Wilder Penfield and others in the 1920s. Penfield mapped exposed motor and speech cortex by electrical stimulation. In the 1960s and 1970s, EEG recordings were made from the exposed cerebral cortex in epilepsy and tumor surgeries.

In the 1970s, following the development of commercial evoked potential equipment, SSEP was used to prevent paralysis in scoliosis surgeries; BSEP and facial nerve EMG began to be used in skull base surgeries at about this time to prevent facial paralysis and hearing loss, and EEG monitoring began to be used in carotid endarterectomies to prevent ischemic strokes during surgery. The use of SSEP monitoring has become generalized to a wide variety of spinal and other surgeries, and some form of intraoperative neurophysiology monitoring has become the standard of care in many types of surgeries.

手術室のご紹介 -宮原眼科医院-

With the widespread popularity of several modalities of IONM, the specialty began to emerge as neurophysiologists, audiologists, technologists, and others began to develop the skills to perform multiple types of monitoring. The technology has steadily improved, the knowledge base has greatly expanded with research and clinical experience, and new applications have been developed. The most recent major advance in the field has been the development of transcranial electric motor evoked potential (TCeMEP) monitoring.

Where is surgical neurophysiology headed in the future? Surgical neurophysiology continues to advance, with the development of new applications such as brainstem mapping, spinal cord mapping, monitoring for position-related nerve injuries, and many others. The surgical neurophysiologist requires increasing knowledge, versatility, and sophistication. The greatest challenge faced by this evolving field is the need for standardized education, training, and credentialing. Many neurophysiologists envision a structure like that of audiology, with graduate degrees in the field and state licensure.

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