Thursday, June 15, 2017

EMG and NCS - Review

Hello there!

Today we'll see some important points on Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve conduction studies (NCS).

EMG evaluates abnormal electrical activity in muscles, and NCS investigates how electricity flows through a nerve.

They help to locate and determine the causes of diseases that affect muscles and peripheral nerves.

In EMG, a small needle is inserted into a muscle, to measure its electrical activity. In NCS, electrodes are placed on the skin overlying a nerve, and other recording electrodes are attached at a different point over the same nerve and a small shock is applied, and the electrical impulse is recorded​.

Understanding the terminologies and results of these tests-

 Amplitude: The electrical signal is represented as a wave, and the amplitude is its height.

ConductionVelocity (CV): The conduction velocity describes the speed at which the electrical impulse travels along the nerve.D

Duration This describes the width of an electrical wave.

ConductionBlock: The diminution of signal across an anatomical region such as the wrist. This suggests nerve entrapment.

So when a nerve stimulates a muscle to contract, there is a brief burst of electrical activity called a motor unit action potential (MUP).

Some of the abnormal responses seen are:

1)Fibrillations & positive sharp waves on the monitor seen in diseases of peripheral nerves.

Muscles sometimes start having spontaneous activity on their own.

2)Fasciculations: Sometimes the abnormality causes visible muscle twitches.

3)Abnormally large MUPS : These are seen If a nerve has been injured and then regrows.

 On regeneration the nerve tends to branch out to include a wider area of the muscle and hence we get large motor unit potentials on the screen.

4) Abnormally small MUPS: When they're  abnormally small or brief it suggests the presence of a disease of a muscle (a myopathy) where the muscle is unable to contract to and fails to provide the normal amplitude of the wave.

5)"Recruitment pattern":  As a muscle is contracted, nerve fibers signal more and more bits of muscle (called motor units) to join in and help. 

In a neuropathic disorder, the amplitude of different motor units is strong, but there are fewer of them because the nerve is unable to connect to as many units.

 In myopathies, the number of motor units is normal, but the amplitude is smaller

You may never come across an actual EMG for an interpretation,but it is always good to know the investigation.

The interpretation of EMG and NCSs is not always straightforward and may not always lead to just one possible diagnosis — but the tests can reduce the number of diagnostic possibilities.

Hope this was helpful!

Let's Learn Together!


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