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Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Nov;122(11):2290-3. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2011.04.007. Epub 2011 May 10.

A comparison of the excitability of motor axons innervating the APB and ADM muscles.

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Department of Neurology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia.



Threshold tracking allows the non-invasive assessment of axonal excitability. This study aimed to determine whether axonal excitability of the motor axons of the median nerve (to APB) and ulnar nerve (to ADM) to the small muscles of the hands is sufficiently similar to be interchangeable; confirm the feasibility and reproducibility of ulnar studies and obtain control data for a young population for this site of stimulation.


Twenty normal subjects between the ages of 23-43 were studied using the TRONDF protocol of QTRACS, (©Prof Hugh Bostock, London). The median and ulnar nerves were stimulated at the wrist and the compound muscle action potentials were recorded from abductor pollicis brevis and abductor digiti minimi, respectively. Repeat studies were performed in four subjects to confirm reproducibility of the recordings.


Stimulus intensity was greater and strength duration time constant was longer for the median nerve. Threshold electrotonus showed there was a greater change in threshold in the hyperpolarising direction for the median nerve compared with the ulnar nerve. There was however little difference in the recovery cycle and current threshold relationship.


Although recovery cycles and the current thresholds are similar for APB and ADM, there are definite differences in stimulus threshold, SDTC and threshold electrotonus which question the interchangeability of studies for these two sites.


This study demonstrates reproducibility of motor axonal excitability studies of the ulnar nerve at the wrist, provides young control data for this site of stimulation and suggests that although certain excitability indices are similar for the median nerve to APB and ulnar nerve to ADM there are definite differences making the interchangeability of the data questionable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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