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Muscle Nerve. 2006 Mar;33(3):324-33.

Neurophysiological testing in anorectal disorders.

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Service de Physiologie, Explorations Fonctionnelles, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Henri Mondor, 51 Avenue du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 94010 Créteil, France.


The neurophysiological techniques currently available to evaluate anorectal disorders include concentric needle electromyography (EMG) of the external anal sphincter, anal nerve terminal motor latency (TML) measurement in response to transrectal electrical stimulation or sacral magnetic stimulation, motor evoked potentials (MEPs) of the anal sphincter to transcranial magnetic cortical stimulation, cortical recording of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) to anal nerve stimulation, quantification of electrical or thermal sensory thresholds (QSTs) within the anal canal, sacral anal reflex (SAR) latency measurement in response to pudendal nerve or perianal stimulation, and perianal recording of sympathetic skin responses (SSRs). In most cases, a comprehensive approach using several tests is helpful for diagnosis: needle EMG signs of sphincter denervation or prolonged TML give evidence for anal motor nerve lesion; SEP/QST or SSR abnormalities can suggest sensory or autonomic neuropathy; and in the absence of peripheral nerve disorder, MEPs, SEPs, SSRs, and SARs can assist in demonstrating and localizing spinal or supraspinal disease. Such techniques are complementary to other methods of investigation, such as pelvic floor imaging and anorectal manometry, to establish the diagnosis and guide therapeutic management of neurogenic anorectal disorders.

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