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Clin Neurophysiol. 2006 Jun;117(6):1173-89. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

The role of different EMG methods in evaluating myopathy.

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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Nørrebrogade 44, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


For the diagnosis of myopathy, EMG may have an important role along with blood tests, muscle biopsies and genetic testing. This review evaluates different EMG methods in the diagnosis of myopathy. These include manual analysis of individual motor unit potentials and multi-motor unit potential analysis sampled at weak effort. At high effort, turns-amplitude analyses such as the cloud analysis and the peak ratio analysis have a high diagnostic yield. The EMG can seldom be used to differentiate between different types of myopathy. In the channelopathies, myotonia, exercise test and cooling of the muscle are helpful. Macro-EMG, single-fibre EMG and muscle fibre conduction velocity analysis have a limited role in myopathy, but provide information about the changes seen. Analysis of the firing rate of motor units, power spectrum analysis, as well as multichannel surface EMG may have diagnostic potential in the future. EMG is of great importance in the diagnosing of patients with myopathy, preferably a needle electrode and quantitative analyses should be used. A combination of a method at weak effort as well as a method at stronger effort seems optimal.

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