Chapter

Assessing the Motor Unit with Needle Electromyography

Devon I. Rubin

in Clinical Neurophysiology

Third edition

Published on behalf of © Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780195385113
Published online April 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199322770 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780195385113.003.0026

Series: Contemporary Neurology Series

Assessing the Motor Unit with Needle Electromyography

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Virtually all primary neuromuscular diseases result in changes in the electric activity recorded from muscle fibers. These changes can best be depicted using fine needle electrodes inserted into the muscle to record spontaneous and voluntary EMG. Thus, EMG can be used to distinguish among lower motor neuron, peripheral nerve, neuromuscular junction, and muscle disease with great sensitivity and some specificity. The sensitivity is usually greater than clinical measures; specificity in identifying the cause of the disease often requires muscle biopsy or other clinical measures. Although EMG is somewhat uncomfortable for patients because needles need to be inserted into the muscles, it generally is well tolerated by patients and provides a rapid, efficient means of testing the motor unit.

Chapter.  21120 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology

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