We studied the percentage change in compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude and area during and after a 5-min maximal contraction of the muscle. The exercise test (ET) was performed on 64 patients with different muscle disorders and on 46 normal controls. The range of normal ET values was defined as the mean + 2 SD of the control values. The mean sensitivity of the test was 63% in the whole group with ion channel muscle disorders, the highest sensitivity being seen in primary periodic paralysis (81%) and the lowest in chloride channelopathies (17%). In thyrotoxic periodic paralysis, the ET was abnormal in the three of the four patients studied. In patients with myotonic dystrophy, a smaller than normal increase in CMAP amplitude occurred during and after exercise, whereas in proximal myotonic myopathy a normal initial increase in CMAP amplitude was followed by an abnormal decrement. We conclude that the ET can be of use in confirming abnormal muscle membrane excitability in patients with calcium and sodium channelopathies and thyrotoxic periodic paralysis. In chloride channelopathy, the test may also be abnormal, but shows no, or only a small, increase in amplitude or area in the immediate postexercise period. The test may also be abnormal in proximal myotonic myopathy, but is normal in myotonic dystrophy.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.