Clinical utility of electrodiagnostic consultation in suspected polyneuropathy

Muscle Nerve. 2004 Nov;30(5):659-62. doi: 10.1002/mus.20119.


Although paresthesias of the distal lower limbs are characteristic features of polyneuropathy, they may also herald the presence of a focal neuropathy, polyradiculopathy, or myelopathy. Electromyography and nerve conduction studies (EMG/NCS) are widely used in the evaluation of such symptoms, but their utility has not been subjected to vigorous scrutiny. We investigated the clinical impact of the electrodiagnostic consultation in assessing suspected polyneuropathy. When compared with the clinical impression, the result of the electrodiagnostic consultation was confirmatory in only 39% of all patients, and changed the diagnosis or uncovered an additional diagnosis in 43%. An alternative diagnosis was likely when either weakness was present (75%) or the Achilles stretch reflex was preserved (48%). These data support the use of EMG/NCS in the diagnostic evaluation of patients presenting with distal paresthesias, especially in those with preserved Achilles reflexes or motor deficits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Electrodiagnosis / methods
  • Electrodiagnosis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Polyneuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Polyneuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Referral and Consultation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies