• horse;
  • cervical lesions;
  • EMG;
  • myopathy;
  • neuropathy;
  • lameness


Reasons for performing study: Systematically performed EMG needle examination of muscles provides essential information about the functional aspects of the motor unit. However, clinical studies in which information is given on the diagnostic and discriminative values of electromyography (EMG) in the horse are scarce.

Objectives: To determine to what extent inclusion of EMG analysis in clinical examination contributes to determination of type and localisation of abnormality.

Methods: EMG analysis, complete clinical examination and diagnosis of 108 horses (mean ± s.d. age 7.5 ± 3.8 years; bodyweight 548 ± 86 kg; height 1.67 ± 0.07 m) were performed, and results without and with EMG analysis compared.

Results: Without EMG, myopathy and neuropathy were diagnosed in 20 and 58 horses, respectively, and with EMG in 17 and 82 horses. EMG changed localisation in myopathy and neuropathy in 12 and 37% of cases, respectively. Lesions in the C1-T2, T2-L3 and L3-S3 segments were, respectively, diagnosed without EMG in 7, 11 and 30%, and with EMG in 27, 7 and 17% of cases. Where no clinical diagnosis could be made prior to EMG, many patients appeared to be suffering from localised cervical lesions (29%) or generalised neuropathy (54%).

Conclusions and potential relevance: The assistance of EMG in discriminating between normal, neuropathy and myopathy, and in locating pathology, contributes to diagnosis of neuromuscular problems.