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Muscle Nerve. 2000 Feb;23(2):193-7.

Statistical motor unit number estimation: reproducibility and sources of error in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0114, USA.


The reliability of motor unit number estimation (MUNE) for assessment of the long-term course of ALS is dependent on the reproducibility of the technique. We report our results with the statistical method of MUNE on the ulnar nerve/hypothenar muscle in 16 ALS patients who were studied on 52 occasions. On each occasion, MUNE was performed twice with one electrode placement and once with a different placement. For each MUNE, mean surface motor unit potential amplitude was determined within three different recording ranges or windows at different stimulus intensities. The MUNE results had excellent reproducibility with coefficients of variation of 19% and test-retest correlation coefficients from 0.75 to 0.86. With examination of sources for variability, the reproducibility of statistical MUNE is not affected by minor variation in stimulation and recording electrode placement but may be improved by modifying methods for recording window selection. The high reproducibility of statistical MUNE supports its reliability for estimating the rate of motor unit loss in ALS.

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