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Motor unit number index and compound muscle action potential amplitude

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  • H. Bostock, Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London
  • ,
  • A. B. Jacobsen
  • ,
  • H. Tankisi

Objectives: MUNIX (motor unit number index), derived from the compound muscle action potential (CMAP) and surface EMG interference pattern (SIP) has become popular as a substitute for motor unit number estimation (MUNE). This study was undertaken to determine why, in recent recordings from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and healthy controls, we found that MUNIX values resembled CMAP amplitudes more closely than MUNE values. Methods: The relationship between MUNIX and CMAP and SIP amplitudes was investigated by a theoretical analysis and by reanalysing the data from the previous study. Results: Theory indicates that when motor unit potentials overlap extensively, information about motor unit size and number is lost, and MUNIX depends only on CMAP area and power. Accordingly, MUNIX values were found to be sensitive to changes in CMAP amplitude but insensitive to changes in SIP amplitude. The reproducibility of MUNIX measurements in healthy controls was found to depend almost entirely on correlation with CMAP properties. Conclusions: MUNIX gives misleading information about motor unit numbers in healthy controls, and provides little information about loss of motor units in ALS patients beyond that given by simple CMAP amplitude measurements. Significance: MUNIX should not be interpreted as a MUNE method.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Volume130
Issue9
Pages (from-to)1734-1740
Number of pages7
ISSN1388-2457
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • CMAP amplitude, Correlation, MUNE, Munix, Musix

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