Practical use of electromyography in veterinary medicine – A review

Fuchs J, Bockay A, Liptak T, Ledecky V, Kuricova M (2022): Practical use of electromyography in veterinary medicine – A review. Vet Med-Czech 67, 113–122.

download PDF

Electromyography (EMG) is a sophisticated electrodiagnostic-neurophysiological method, which serves to diagnose neuromuscular system diseases. It is based on the measurement of the electrical potentials created by the skeletal muscle activity. For this technique, surface electrodes and needle electrodes can be used, which read the action potential of a large number of motor units and read a small number of motor units, respectively. The wide-spectrum application of this method extends our diagnostic possibilities of the clinical examination in veterinary practice. Together with a clinical neurological examination and imaging methods, EMG forms a part of the diagnosis of nervous system diseases and it is a useful diagnostic technique for differentiating neuropathies, junctionopathies, and myopathies. The results of the neurophysiological examination inform us about the functional state of the peripheral and central nervous system; it can demonstrate subclinical diseases and monitor the dynamics of changes in the functional state of individual nervous systems over time. In this article, we review the electromyographic method and its use in veterinary practice.

Abraham LA, Mitten RW, Beck C, Charles JA, Holloway SA. Diagnosis of sciatic nerve tumor in two dogs by electromyography and magnetic resonance imaging. Aust Vet J. 2003 Jan-Feb;81(1-2):42-6.
Abrams BM, Waldman HJ. Electromyography and evoked potentials. In: Benzon HT, Rathmell JP, Wu CL, Turk DC, Argoff CA, Hurley RW, editors. Practical management of pain. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014. p. 162-84.
Aleman M, Berryhill E, Woolard K, Easton-Jones CA, Kozikowski-Nicholas T, Dyson S, Kilcoyne I. Sidewinder gait in horses. J Vet Intern Med. 2020 Sep;34(5):2122-31.
Aman JE, Valberg SJ, Elangovan N, Nicholson A, Lewis SS, Konczak J. Abnormal locomotor muscle recruitment activity is present in horses with shivering and Purkinje cell distal axonopathy. Equine Vet J. 2018;50(5):636-43.
Aminoff MJ. Aminoff’s electrodiagnostic in clinical neurology. 6th ed. [Philadelphia]: Elsevier Saunders; 2012. 896 p.
Binzegger von J, Heckmann R. Elektromyographie in der Kleintierklinik [Electromyography in the small animal clinic]. Kleintierpraxis. 1977;1:30-5. German.
Binzegger von J, Lakatos L, Heckmann R, Keller M. Zur klinischen Abklarung zweier Falle zervikospinalen bedingter Bewegungsstorungen beim Hunf [Clinical explanation of 2 cases of cervicospinal locomotor disorders in the dog]. Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 1976 Dec;118(12):547-52. German.
Bockstahler B, Krautler C, Holler P, Kotschwar A, Vobor-nik A, Peham C. Pelvic limb kinematics and surface electromyography of the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and gluteus medius muscle in dogs with hip osteoarthritis. Vet Surg. 2012;41(1):54-62.
Buchtal F, Rosenfalck P. Spontaneous electrical activity of human muscle. Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1966 Apr;20(4):321-36.
Chouhan S. Normal motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity of radial nerve in young adult medical students. J Clin Diagn Res. 2016 Jan;10(1):CC01-03.
Crone C, Krarup C. Neurophysiological approach to disorders of peripheral nerve. In: Said G, Krarup C, editors. Peripheral nerve disorders (Handbook of clinical neurology: Vol 115). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier B.V.; 2013. p. 81-114.
Cuddon PA. Electrophysiology in neuromuscular disease. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2002 Jan;32(1):31-62.
Cummings JF, De Lahunta A. Hereditary myelopathy of Afghan hounds, a myelinolytic disease. Acta Neuropathol. 1978;42(3):173-81.
De Risio L, Sharp NJH, Olby NJ, Munana KR, Thomas WB. Predictors of outcome after dorsal decompressive laminectomy for degenerative lumbosacral stenosis in dogs: 69 cases (1987–1997). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001 Sep;219(5):624-8.
De Risio L, Zavattiero S, Venzi C, Del Bue M, Poncelet L. Focal canine tetanus: Diagnostic value of electromyography. J Small Anim Pract. 2006;47(5):278-80.
Dewey WC, Fossum WT. Neurodiagnostic overview for the small animal surgeon. In: Fossum WT, Duprey LP, editors. Small animal surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019. p. 1313-22.
Dokozeylul B, Eravci E, Demirutku A, Devecioglu Y, Or ME. Evaluation of facial paralysis with electromyography (EMG) associated with hypothyroidism in a dog. Turk J Vet Anim Sci. 2013 Apr;37(2):250-4.
Dumitru D. Electrodiagnostic medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Hanley & Belfus; 2001. 1536 p.
Fellows LK, Foster BJ, Chalk CH. Clinical significance of complex repetitive discharges: A case-control study. Muscle Nerve. 2003 Oct;28(4):504-7.
Forterre F, Tomek A, Rytz U, Brunnberg L, Jaggy A, Spreng D. Iatrogenic sciatic nerve injury in eighteen dogs and nine cats (1997–2006). Vet Surg. 2007 Jul;36(5):464-71.
Granger N, Stalin CE, Brown TBH, Jeffery ND. Idiopathic polyradiculoneuropathy in a Bengal cat: Electrophysiological findings and 1 year follow-up. J Feline Med Surg. 2008;10(6):603-7.
Hajek I, Schanilec P, Dufek J. Elektromyografie v diagnostice neuromuskularnich onemocneni psu a kocek. [Electromyography in diagnostics of neuromuscular diseases of dogs and cats]. Proceeding of the Konference mladých vědeckých pracovníků (Conference of young scientists) FVL VFU Brno; 2012 May; Czech Republic: FVL VFU Brno; 2012. Czech.
Jaggy A. Atlas and textbook of small animal surgery. Hannover: Schlutersche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH; 2009. p. 155-6.
Jones WE. Equine sports medicine. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger; 1989. 329 p.
Kane NM, Oware A. Nerve conduction and electromyography studies. Techniques in clinical science. J Neurol. 2012 Jul;259(7):1502-8.
Kimura J. Electrodiagnosis in diseases of nerve and muscle: Principles and practice. New York, Oxford University Press; 2001. 991 p.
Kimura J. Electrodiagnosis in diseases of nerve and muscle: Principles and practice. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis; 1984. 972 p.
Kimura J. Principles of nerve conduction studies. In: Kimura J, editor. Electrodiagnosis in diseases of nerve and muscle: Principles and practice. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis; 1989. 709 p.
Lauer SK, Hillman RB, Li L, Hosgood GL. Effects of treadmill inclination on electromyographic activity and hind limb kinematics in healthy hounds at a walk. Am J Vet Res. 2009 May;70(5):658-64.
LeCouteur AR, Williams CD. Neurodiagnostics. In: Tobias K, Johnston S, editors. Veterinary surgery: Small animal. St. Louis: W.B. Saunders Company; 2012. p. 340-56.
McLean H, Millis D, Levine D. Surface electromyography of the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris and gluteus medius in dogs during stance, walking, trotting and selected therapeutic exercises. Front Vet Sci. 2019 Jul 10;6:211.
Menchetti M, Gandini G, Bravaccini B, Dondi M, Gagliardo T, Bianchi E. Clinical, electrodiagnostic findings and quality of life of dogs and cats with brachial plexus injury. Vet Sci. 2020 Jul 31;7(3):101.
Mills KR. The basic of electromyography. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;76(Suppl_2):ii32-ii5.
Mizisin AP, Shelton GD, Burgers ML, Powell HC, Cuddon PA. Neurological complications associated with spontaneously occurring feline diabetes mellitus. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2002 Oct;61(10):872-84.
Nam S, Kang BT, Song K, Seo K. Long-term follow up of refractory myotonia associated with hyperadrenocorticism in Maltese dog. J Vet Clin. 2020 Oct;37(5):273-7.
Nes van JJ. Clinical application of neuromuscular electrophysiology in the dog: A review. Vet Q. 1986 Jul;8(3):240-50.
Nuijens FW, Snelderwaard PC, Bout RG. An electromyographic technique for small animals. J Neurosci Methods. 1997 Sep 5;76(1):71-3.
Platt SR, Olby NJ. BSAVA manual of canine and feline neurology. 4th ed. Gloucester: BSAVA; 2014. Preface.
Podell M, Valentine BA, Cummings JF, Mohammed HO, Cooper BJ, Reed S, Divers TJ, Jakcson A, Lahunta A de. Electromyography in acquired equine motor neuron disease. Prog Vet Neur. 1995;6(4):128-34.
Poncelet L, Poma R. Electrophysiology. In: Platt SR, Olby NJ, editors. BSAVA manual of canine and feline neurology. 4th ed. Gloucester: BSAVA; 2012. p. 59-76.
Quinlan KA, Kajtaz E, Ciolino JD, Imhoff-Manuel RD, Tresch MC, Heckman CJ, Tysseling VM. Chronic electromyograms in treadmill running SOD1 mice reveal early changes in muscle activation. J Physiol. 2017 Aug 1;595(15):5387-400.
Sims MH. Clinical electrodiagnostic evaluation in exotic animal medicine. Semin Avian Exot Pet Med. 1996;5(3):140-9.
Sisson AF, LeCouteur RA, Ingram JT, Park RD, Child G. Diagnosis of cauda equina abnormalities by using electromyography, discography a epidurography in dogs. J Vet Intern Med. 1992 Sep-Oct;6(5):253-63.
Sonoo M, Ueseugi H, Mochizuki A, Hatanaka Y, Shimizu T. Single fiber EMG and repetitive nerve stimulation of the same extensor digitorum communes muscle in myasthenia gravis. J Clin Neurophysiol. 2001 Feb;112(2):300-3.
Stalberg E, Chu J, Bril V, Nandedkar S, Stalberg S, Ericsson M. Automatic analysis of the EMG interference pattern. Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1983 Dec;56(6):672-81.
Stalberg E, Trontelj JV, Sanders DB. Single fiber EMG. 3rd ed. Edshagen: Publishing House Fiskebaeckskil; 2010. 400 p.
Stalberg E, Trontelj JV. The study of normal and abnormal neuromuscular transmission with single fibre electromyography. J Neurosci Methods. 1997 Jun 27;74(2):145-54.
Stanciu GD, Solcan G. Acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis concurrent with acquired myasthenia gravis in a West Highland white terrier dog. BMC Vet Res. 2016 Jun 14;12(1):111.
Steinberg HS. The use of electrodiagnostic techniques in evaluating traumatic brachial plexus root injuries. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 1979;15(5):621-6.
Strain GM. Neurologic electrodiagnostic testing [Internet]. 2006 [cited 2021 Month Day]. Available from:
Sustronck B. Electromyographic examination in the horse. Vet Annual. 1994;34:97-106.
Van Wessum R, Sloet van Oldruitenborgh-Oosterbaa MM, Clayton HM. Electromyography in the horse in veterinary medicine and in veterinary research review. Vet Q. 1999 Jan;21(1):3-7.
Whelan PJ. Electromyogram recordings from freely moving animals. Methods. 2003 Jun;30(2):127-41.
Yang D, He F, Li T. Repetitive nerve stimulation and stimulation single fiber electromyography studies in rats intoxicated with single or mixed insecticides. Toxicology. 2001 Mar;161(1-2):111-6.
download PDF

© 2022 Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences | Prohlášení o přístupnosti