Electrodiagnostic studies: are they useful in clinical practice?

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Dec;79(12):1510-1. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(98)90411-7.


Objective: Electrodiagnostic testing (electromyography [EMG] and nerve conduction studies [NCS]) may result in some patient discomfort. The justification for such testing should be based on the expectation that the results will affect patient management. This study was conducted to determine how frequently the results of EMG/NCS change the clinical management of the patient.

Methods: One investigator (MB) spoke to each referring physician after EMG/NCS to determine if any management decisions were altered by the test.

Results: One hundred forty consecutive EMG/NCS records were obtained. Follow-up was available on 100 patients. Of 78 patients with abnormal findings on EMG/NCS, 29 (37%) had a diagnosis different from the referring diagnosis. For 43 of the 78 (55%), the physician reported that additional diagnostic testing was undertaken or treatment plans were altered.

Conclusion: EMG/NCS are useful, informative, and diagnostic in the management of various neurologic disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electrodiagnosis / standards*
  • Electromyography / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / therapy
  • Patient Care Management / organization & administration*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / organization & administration*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Reproducibility of Results