Negative electroretinograms in the pediatric and adult population

Doc Ophthalmol. 2012 Feb;124(1):41-8. doi: 10.1007/s10633-011-9301-2. Epub 2012 Jan 13.


Objective To assess the frequency of negative waveform electroretinograms (ERGs) in a tertiary referral center. Design Retrospective chart review. Participants All patients who had an ERG performed at the electrophysiology clinic at Emory University from January 1999 through March 2008 were included in the study. Methods Patients with b-wave amplitude ≤ a-wave amplitude during the dark-adapted bright flash recording, in at least one eye, were identified as having a "negative ERG". Clinical information, such as age, gender, symptoms, best corrected visual acuity, and diagnoses were recorded for these patients when available. Results A total of 1,837 patients underwent ERG testing during the study period. Of those, 73 patients had a negative ERG, for a frequency of 4.0%. Within the adult (≥ 18 years of age) and pediatric populations, the frequencies of a negative ERG were 2.5 and 7.2%, respectively. Among the 73 cases, negative ERGs were more common among male than female patients, 6.7% versus 1.8% (P < 0.0001). Negative ERGs were most common among male children and least common among female adults, 9.6% versus 1.1%, respectively, (P < 0.0001). Overall in this group of patients, the most common diagnoses associated with a negative ERG were congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB, n = 29) and X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS, n = 7). Conclusions The overall frequency of negative ERGs in this large retrospective review was 4.0%. Negative ERGs were most common among male children and least common among female adults. Despite the growing number of new diagnoses associated with negative ERGs, CSNB, and XLRS appear to be the most likely diagnoses for a pediatric patient who presents with a negative ERG.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dark Adaptation*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroretinography / methods*
  • Eye Diseases, Hereditary
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Diseases, X-Linked
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myopia / diagnosis*
  • Myopia / physiopathology
  • Night Blindness / diagnosis*
  • Night Blindness / physiopathology
  • Retina / physiopathology*
  • Retinoschisis / diagnosis*
  • Retinoschisis / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity

Supplementary concepts

  • Night blindness, congenital stationary