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Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2003 May;14(2):207-29.

Single-fiber electromyography.

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  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, 345 East Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Single-fiber EMG is a technique introduced in 1963 by Stålberg and Ekstedt for recording single muscle fiber action potentials by means of a specially constructed needle with a 25-microm recording surface. The needle is positioned in the muscle to record from two or more time-locked potentials belonging to the same motor unit. Jitter is the variability in the arrival time of action potentials to the recording electrode between consecutive discharges. This variability reflects end-plate conduction and is measured along with fiber density, which is the average number of fibers belonging to the same motor unit that is in the recording area. An abnormal test is one in which more than 10%, or the mean, of 20 fiber pairs has increased jitter when compared with normal reference values. Increased fiber density is seen with reinnervation. Single-fiber EMG is more sensitive than conventional EMG and is the most sensitive, but not specific, test for myasthenia gravis. Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, and other neuromusculasr junction pathology. It has been useful in the evaluation of some neuropathies and myopathies and has provided valuable information on the motor unit spatial arrangement, territory, microphysiology, and pathophysiology.

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