• Open Access

Quantitative Electromyographic Examination in Myogenic Disorders of 6 Horses


Diplomate Dutch College of Equine Internal Medicine, Yalelaan 16, P.O. Box 80.153, 3508 TD Utrecht, the Netherlands; e-mail: i.wijnberg@vet.uu.nl.


Electromyographic needle examination (EMG), including the semiautomatic quantitative analysis of motor unit action potential (MUAP), is an important diagnostic tool for myopathy in humans. The diagnostic possibilities of this technique have not been fully explored in horses; however, recent studies have shown that MUAP analysis can be performed in conscious horses. To determine the diagnostic possibilities of EMG in horses, we compared the EMG results of the subclavian muscle, the triceps, and the lateral vastus muscle in 6 equine patients thought to have myogenic disorders with those in 7 normal control horses. The EMG results were compared with the results of the histopathologic examination of the lateral vastus muscle in patients and controls. Histopathologic examination showed muscle disease in 3 patients. In the patient group, several types of abnormal spontaneous activities were observed (mainly fibrillation potentials and positive sharp waves), and the MUAPs of the patient group had a markedly shorter duration and lower amplitude than those of the control group. In the subclavian muscle, triceps, and lateral vastus muscle of affected horses, the MUAP duration was 5.0 ± 0.4 (mean ± SD), 3.9 ± 0.3, and 4.7 ± 1.1 milliseconds, respectively. The MUAP amplitude was 217 ± 55, 150 ± 74, and 180 ± 54 MV; the number of phases was 2.4 ± 0.2, 2.5 ± 0.3, and 2.3 ± 0.1; and the number of turns was 2.6 ± 0.2, 2.4 ± 0.2, and 2.8 ± 0.5, respectively. In conclusion, it appears that the EMG may be a more sensitive method than other techniques for examining muscle biopsies for diagnosis of early-stage myopathy in horses.