Critical reappraisal of referrals to electromyography and nerve conduction studies

Eur J Neurol. 2005 Feb;12(2):150-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2004.00979.x.


A large number of examinees referred to electromyographic (EMG) laboratories do not have symptoms or signs suggestive of a peripheral nervous system disorder, and the aim of the present study was to check this. All examinees evaluated by the author in a "general" EMG laboratory in the first 4 months of 2002 were included. Data on examinees, referral physicians and diagnoses, clinical symptoms and signs, and electrodiagnostic findings were statistically evaluated. Three hundred examinees, 42% men, were included. A neurological diagnosis was provided in 55% of referrals. Electrodiagnostic abnormalities were found in 45% of examinees. Using multivariate statistics, a positive effect of neurological referral diagnosis, history of paraesthesias and of weakness and sensory loss on examination, and a negative effect of history of pain on pathological electrodiagnostic findings were found. Except 20 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, no patient with normal clinical examination had abnormal electrodiagnostic findings. Our study confirmed the inappropriateness of referrals to electrodiagnostic examination to screen patients for peripheral nervous disorders. We propose electrodiagnostic examination mainly of patients with unequivocal clinical signs of a peripheral nervous system lesion and of patients with typical symptoms of the carpal tunnel syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Prognosis
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*