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The utility of electrodiagnostic testing in unprovoked rhabdomyolysis in the era of next-generation sequencing.

Muscle & Nerve 2024 March 28
INTRODUCTION/AIMS: Rhabdomyolysis is an etiologically heterogeneous, acute necrosis of myofibers characterized by transient marked creatine kinase (CK) elevation associated with myalgia, muscle edema, and/or weakness. The study aimed to determine the role of electrodiagnostic (EDX) testing relative to genetic testing and muscle biopsy in patients with unprovoked rhabdomyolysis in identifying an underlying myopathy.

METHODS: EDX database was reviewed to identify unprovoked rhabdomyolysis patients who underwent EDX testing between January 2012 and January 2022. Each patient's clinical profile, EDX findings, muscle pathology, laboratory, and genetic testing results were analyzed.

RESULTS: Of 66 patients identified, 32 had myopathic electromyography (EMG). Muscle biopsy and genetic testing were performed in 41 and 37 patients, respectively. A definitive diagnosis was achieved in 15 patients (11 myopathic EMG and 4 nonmyopathic EMG; p = .04) based on abnormal muscle biopsy (4/11 patients) or genetic testing (12/12 patients, encompassing 5 patients with normal muscle biopsy and 3 patients with nonmyopathic EMG). These included seven metabolic and eight nonmetabolic myopathies (five muscular dystrophies and three ryanodine receptor 1 [RYR1]-myopathies). Patients were more likely to have baseline weakness (p < .01), elevated baseline CK (p < .01), and nonmetabolic myopathies (p = .03) when myopathic EMG was identified.

DISCUSSION: Myopathic EMG occurred in approximately half of patients with unprovoked rhabdomyolysis, more likely in patients with weakness and elevated CK at baseline. Although patients with myopathic EMG were more likely to have nonmetabolic myopathies, nonmyopathic EMG did not exclude myopathy, and genetic testing was primarily helpful to identify an underlying myopathy. Genetic testing should likely be first-tier diagnostic testing following unprovoked rhabdomyolysis.

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