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Which patients need referral for anal sphincter electromyography?

Simon Podnar
Muscle & Nerve 2006, 33 (2): 278-82
Needle electromyography (EMG) of lower sacral myotomes is useful in certain patients with urinary, bowel, or sexual dysfunction. The aim of the study was to identify the clinical profile of patients who require such testing. Medical records were retrospectively reviewed, and findings evaluated using bivariate and multivariate statistics. A neuropathic condition affecting the lower sacral segments was diagnosed by quantitative concentric needle EMG of the external anal sphincter (EAS) muscle. Neuropathic changes in the EAS were found in 85 (44%) of 193 patients studied. On ordinal logistic regression analysis, bladder-emptying difficulties and perineal sensory loss were significantly related to the presence of a neuropathic EMG. No guidelines for referral for anal sphincter EMG could be defined that would include all patients with neuropathic abnormalities in the lower sacral segments. However, patients with bladder-emptying difficulties and perineal sensory loss seem to be the most suitable candidates for testing.

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