Reliability of nerve conduction studies among active workers

Muscle Nerve. 1999 Oct;22(10):1372-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4598(199910)22:10<1372::aid-mus6>;2-s.


Nerve conduction studies play an important role in clinical practice and research. Given their widespread use, reliability of tests merits careful attention. We assessed interexaminer and intraexaminer reliability of median and ulnar sensory nerve measures of amplitude, onset latency, and peak latency. In a two-phase cross-sectional study, two examiners tested 158 workers. Reliability was assessed with intraclass correlations (ICC) and kappa statistics. Median nerve measures were more reliable (ICC range, 0.76 to 0.92) than ulnar measures (ICC range, 0.22 to 0.85). Ulnar-onset latencies had the worst reliability. The median-ulnar peak latency difference was a particularly stable measure (ICC range, 0.79 to 0.92). The median-ulnar peak latency difference had high interexaminer reliability (kappa range, 0.71 to 0.79) for normal tests defined by cut points of 0.8 ms and 0.5 ms. Intraexaminer reliability was higher with the 0.8-ms cut point (kappa = 0.90 and kappa = 0.85 for examiners 1 and 2, respectively). Rather than absolute cut points to describe normality, a more rational interpretation of results can be made with ordered categories or continuous measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Peripherals*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Observer Variation
  • Occupational Health*
  • Reaction Time
  • Reference Values
  • Ulnar Nerve / physiology