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A morphological analysis of the macro motor unit potential

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ian Schofield, Dr Peter Fawcett


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The technique of macro EMG is used to investigate the motor unit architecture in a number of pathological conditions. Amplitude and area are the most commonly used criteria, but these parameters alone are not sufficient to assess the complexity of the macro MUP morphology. In an attempt to examine the morphology of the macro MUP in more detail, additional measures were investigated including, (i) average power, (ii) duration, and (iii) number of phases. Macro MUP duration was defined as the time parameter that contains a particular fraction (90%) of the total power of the potential. The above mentioned parameters were evaluated for normal subjects and for patients suffering with motor neuron disease (MND), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and Pecker's muscular dystrophy (BMD). It is shown that high amplitude and average power macro MUPs give shorter macro MUP duration than macro MUPs with normal amplitude. In contrast, in low amplitude macro MUPs there is a tendency towards a higher duration measure, as compared with the duration of the normal amplitude macro MUPs. Also, t-test results for the duration measure gave a significant difference between the NOR-MND, and no significant difference between the NOR-BMD and NOR-SMA groups at P<0.05. Significant difference between the NOR and the three disease groups investigated was obtained for the parameters log amplitude, log area, and log average power. The number of phases was not significantly different between the NOR and the rest of the groups. In conclusion, the average power and duration parameters can possibly be used as additional discriminators to detect abnormalities of the macro motor unit potential in both needle and surface EMG but further investigation is necessary. (C) 2000 IPEM. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pattichis CS, Schofield IS, Fawcett P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Medical Engineering & Physics

Year: 1999

Volume: 21

Issue: 10

Pages: 673-679

ISSN (print): 1350-4533

ISSN (electronic): 1873-4030

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/S1350-4533(99)00099-5


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