There is an interesting paper that was just published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery. It is free to access and download, so just click here for the pdf. Also, for those of you who don’t like to read, the paper is short is mostly filled with tables!
The research took place in Canada which, just like the US, has a significant shortage of personnel to perform IONM. So, the authors created a survey, using Survey Monkey, and sent it out to surgical societies representing spine surgery, neurosurgery, ENT and cardiothoracic surgery. Basically, they asked surgeons 1) who is interpreting your IONM data now, and 2) who would you prefer to interpret your data. The surveys were left open for 6 months, and the results were pooled.
I think one of the most striking results is that the majority of respondents (surgeons) are performing their own interpretation of IONM, but they’d rather not. A second striking finding is that, given the choice, more than 90% of spine-, neuro- and ENT-surgeons would prefer that a PhD neurophysiologist interpret their IONM data. Neurologist fell much lower on the preference scale. I wonder why (and I’m not being sarcastic, I really do wonder why).
The study has a couple of design flaws, which leave it open to criticism. For example, it’s a survey, with a small number of respondents, who may or may not represent the population. These points aside, it’s a start. I wonder what surgeons in the US would say. I think we all know that Dr. Dormans (2010) argues for qualified, board-certified individuals. He seems to care less for whether it is an MD, PhD, DC, AuD, etc, as long as it’s a doctoral-level individual.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had a survey like this in the US, with many thousands of respondents? I would just be interested to see the findings.