Limitations of Electromyography and Magnetic Stimulation for Assessing Laryngeal Muscle Control

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The development of new phonosurgical techniques has increased the level of interest in the field of neurolaryngology. This field requires valid techniques for determining if muscle activation is normal. Laryngeal electromyography is being used more frequently to assess muscle innervation and synkinesis. Further, magnetic stimulation has been introduced as a noninvasive technique for nerve stimulation. Technical limitations that affect the clinical utility of both these techniques are reviewed: 1) difficulties obtaining selective and accurate electromyographic laryngeal muscle recordings, 2) normal variation in movement and muscle activation patterns within and between normal individuals when producing the same speech syllables, and 3) variation in laryngeal muscle response latencies between and within normal subjects during peripheral magnetic stimulation. Given the normal variation in laryngeal electromyography and magnetic stimulation response latencies, these techniques may not yet be reliable or accurate for assessing reinnervation or synkinesis following recurrent laryngeal nerve injury.

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