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J Child Neurol. 2007 Jul;22(7):803-8.

Electromyography (EMG) accuracy compared to muscle biopsy in childhood.

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Neuropediatric Unit, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91240, Israel.


Reports show wide variability of electromyography (EMG) in detecting pediatric neuromuscular disorders. The study's aim was to determine EMG/nerve conduction study accuracy compared to muscle biopsy and final clinical diagnosis, and sensitivity for myopathic motor unit potential detection in childhood. Of 550 EMG/nerve conduction studies performed by the same examiner from a pediatric neuromuscular service, 27 children (ages 6 days to 16 years [10 boys; M:F, 1:1.7]) with muscle biopsies and final clinical diagnoses were compared retrospectively. Final clinical diagnoses were congenital myopathies (5 of 27,18%), nonspecific myopathies (biopsy myopathic, final diagnosis uncertain; 6 of 27, 22%), congenital myasthenic syndrome (3 of 27, 11%), juvenile myasthenia gravis (1 of 27, 4%), arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (2 of 27, 7%), hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (1 of 27, 4%), bilateral peroneal neuropathies (1 of 27, 4%), and normal (8 of 27, 30%). There were no muscular dystrophy or spinal muscular atrophy patients. EMG/nerve conduction studies had a 74% agreement with final clinical diagnoses and 100% agreement in neurogenic, neuromuscular junction, and normal categories. Muscle biopsies concurred with final diagnoses in 87%, and 100% in myopathic and normal categories. In congenital myasthenic syndrome, muscle biopsies showed mild variation in fiber size in 2 of 3 children and were normal in 1 of 3. EMG sensitivity for detecting myopathic motor unit potentials in myopathies was 4 of 11 (36%), greater over 2 years of age (3 of 4, 75%), compared to infants less than 2 years (1 of 7, 14%), not statistically significant (P = .0879). EMGs false-negative for myopathy in infants < 2 years of age were frequently neurogenic (3 of 6, 50%). In congenital myopathies EMG detected myopathic motor unit potentials in 40%, with false-negative results neurogenic (20%) or normal (40%). Because our study has no additional tests for active myopathies, for example Duchenne muscular dystrophy genetic testing, our sensitivity for myopathies is lower than if we used a more global view. In conclusion, EMG detection rate of myopathic motor unit potentials at a young age was low, improving in children over 2 years of age. In neurogenic and neuromuscular junction disorders, the EMG has a very high detection rate. In children with mild to moderate neurogenic EMG findings and normal nerve conduction, a myopathy should always be considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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