Electromyography: do the diagnostic ends justify the means?

Milind J. Kothari, David C. Preston, George M. Plotkin, Swamy Venkatesh, Jeremy M. Shefner, Eric L. Logigian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Physicians are sometimes reluctant to refer patients for electrodiagnostic studies (electromyography with nerve conduction studies [EMG/NCS]) believing the test is too painful and of little benefit. Methods: We performed two separate surveys on 126 and 100 consecutive patients referred to our laboratory to determine if EMG/NCS was beneficial to the referring physician and to compare the level of anxiety experienced by patients before the study with the pain actually experienced during the study. Results: The electrodiagnosis was discordant from the referring diagnosis in 39% of the patients with an abnormal EMG/NCS. Pretest anxiety levels were low in 59% of the patients, medium in 27%, and high in 14%. After the tests, 82% of the patients said that the test was not as bad as expected, and was generally only mildly painful. Ninety-three responded that they would have the test performed again. Conclusions: EMG/NCS often suggest alternative diagnoses, and the actual pain experienced during an EMG/NCS study is significantly less than expected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-949
Number of pages3
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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