A comparison of thermography and electromyography in the diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy

Muscle Nerve. 1990 Nov;13(11):1032-6. doi: 10.1002/mus.880131106.


We studied 20 asymptomatic control subjects and 14 patients with clinically unequivocal cervical radiculopathy to compare the diagnostic value of thermography with that of electromyography. We measured the average skin temperature of designated regions over the neck, shoulder, and upper extremities. We then compared the temperature between corresponding regions of the two limbs, and between fingers innervated by different roots in the same hand. Thermography was abnormal in 6 patients (43%), whereas electromyography was abnormal in 10 (71%). Thermographic abnormalities were seen only in the hands and fingers, and the pattern did not follow the dermatome of the clinically involved cervical root. When compared to electromyography, thermography provided no additional diagnostic information. Thus, thermography does not have an established role in the evaluation of patients with cervical radiculopathy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Arm / innervation
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Temperature
  • Spinal Nerve Roots*
  • Thermography*