Satellite potentials as a measure of neuromuscular disorders

Author(s): Finsterer J, Mamoli B


The study was carried out to investigate the characteristics of satellite potentials and their validity in clinical electromyography. Conventional needle electromyography was applied to the right biceps brachii and tibialis anterior muscles of 41 controls, 22 neuropathies, and 17 myopathies. Satellites were defined as small extrapotentials, preceding/following the main motor unit action potential (MUAP) component and separated from it by an isoelectrical interval of > 1 ms. The normal mean satellite rate was 1.6% (biceps brachii) and 1.2% (tibialis anterior). In the biceps brachii (tibialis anterior) muscle it was 5 (5) times higher for neuropathies (P = 0.005, P = 0.006) and 5 (6) times higher for myopathies (P = 0.006, P = 0.003). MUAP parameters were not significantly different, whether satellites were considered or ignored. Evaluation of the satellite rate increased detection rates of neuromuscular disorders by up to 13%. The satellite rate proved a valuable and easily available, supplemental electromyographic parameter for the discrimination and detection of neuromuscular disorders.

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