Clinical Nerve Conduction and Needle Electromyography Studies

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The electrodiagnostic study, consisting of nerve conduction studies and needle electromyography, is a useful adjunct to the clinical examination of the peripheral nervous system. The three types of nerve conduction study are motor, sensory, and mixed, of which motor is the least sensitive. Electromyography records the intrinsic electrical activity of muscle fibers, thus providing the physiologic status of muscle function. To interpret the electrodiagnostic study results, the clinician must understand the anatomic and physiologic basis of the studies. Peripheral nerve entrapment initially results in focal demyelination; thus, nerve conduction velocity slows across the site. However, with radiculopathy and nerve root compression, the nerve conduction study may be normal. Both nerve trauma and polyneuropathy show marked differences in their effect on the results of electrodiagnostic studies.

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