AAEM minimonograph #25: single-fiber electromyography

Muscle Nerve. 1996 Sep;19(9):1069-83. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4598(199609)19:9<1069::AID-MUS1>3.0.CO;2-Y.


Single-fiber electromyography (SFEMG) is a selective recording technique in which a needle electrode with a small recording surface in the side is used to identify action potentials from individual muscle fibers. The SFEMG parameters of greatest clinical use are fiber density (FD) and neuromuscular jitter. FD reflects the local organization of muscle fibers within the motor unit; jitter reflects the safety factor of neuromuscular transmission at individual neuromuscular junctions. SFEMG can be of great value in demonstrating or excluding abnormalities in mild or questionable disease of nerve, muscle, or the neuromuscular junction. The neuromuscular jitter may be measured during nerve stimulation, which is particularly useful in uncooperative patients or when it is desirable to control the firing rate precisely, or during voluntary muscle activation, which is less subject to technical artifact. The SFEMG findings may not be specific to a particular disease, but they frequently increase understanding of the disease process by demonstrating abnormal neuromuscular transmission or rearrangement of muscle fibers within the motor unit, which complements information from more conventional EMG examinations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myasthenia Gravis / physiopathology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology