Rectus femoris surface myoelectric signal cross-talk during static contractions

C A Byrne, G M Lyons, A E Donnelly, D T O'Keeffe, H Hermens, A Nene
Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2005, 15 (6): 564-75
The clinical application of EMG requires that the recorded signal is representative of the muscle of interest and is not contaminated with signals from adjacent muscles. Some authors report that surface EMG is not suitable for obtaining information on a single muscle but rather reflects muscle group function [J. Perry, C.S. Easterday, D.J. Antonelli, Surface versus intramuscular electrodes for electromyography of superficial and deep muscles. Physical Therapy 61 (1981) 7-15]. Other authors report however, that surface EMG is adequate to determine individual muscle function, once guidelines pertaining to data acquisition are followed [D.A. Winter, A.J. Fuglevand, S.E. Archer. Cross-talk in surface electromyography: theoretical and practical estimates. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 4 (1994) 15-26]. The aim of this study was to determine whether surface EMG was suitable for monitoring rectus femoris (RF) activity during static contractions. Five healthy subjects, having given written informed consent, participated in this trial. Surface and fine wire EMG from the rectus femoris and the vastus lateralis (VL) muscles were recorded simultaneously during a protocol of static contractions consisting of knee extensions and hip flexions. Ratios were used to quantify the relationship between the surface EMG amplitude value and the fine wire EMG amplitude value for the same contraction. The results showed that hip flexion contractions elicited RF activation only and that knee extension contractions elicited fine wire activity in VL only. When the relationship between RF surface and RF fine wire electrodes was compared for hip flexion and knee extension contractions, it was observed that for all subjects, there was a tendency for increased RF surface activity in the absence of RF fine wire activity during knee extensions. It was concluded that the activity recorded by the RF surface electrode arrangement during knee extension consisted of EMG from the vastii, i.e., cross-talk and that vastus intermedius was the most likely origin of the erroneous signal. Therefore it is concluded that for accurate EMG information from RF, fine wire electrodes are necessary during a range of static contractions.

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