What are the differences in the clinical use between MRI and evoked potentials (EPs)?

Updated: Oct 25, 2019
  • Author: Andrew B Evans, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Clinical use of EPs has changed over time. Progressive advances in imaging technology, especially in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have reduced the use of EP testing in clinical practice. The basic difference between the 2 studies is as follows:

  • MRI largely remains an imaging, structural, or anatomic test and therefore gives more accurate information about structural problems

  • EP testing assesses functionality and thus supplies information about the physiology of a certain anatomic pathway, providing much less spatial or localizing information than MRI does

In some circumstances, MRI and EP studies may be complementary. However, most clinical questions are answered better by MRI of the pertinent neurologic structures. SEPs have shown promise in predicting outcome after postanoxic coma.

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