Physiologic basis of potentials recorded in electromyography

Daniel Dumitru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The extracellularly recorded configuration of a single muscle fiber discharge is generally appreciated to be triphasic with an initially positive deflection. However, careful attention to waveform appearance during the electrodiagnostic medicine examination reveals that both innervated and denervated muscle waveforms may display a pantheon of configurations. Further, despite the fact that innervated and denervated single muscle fiber discharges arise from distinctly different intracellular action potential (IAP) configurations, their extracellularly recorded waveforms can appear quite similar, leading to potential misidentification and, hence, the possibility of an erroneous diagnostic conclusion. The least appreciated, but nevertheless critical, aspect of explanations for muscle waveform configurations is the relationship between the muscle fiber and recording electrode. Additionally, it is important to appreciate both the near-field and far-field aspects of single fiber and compound muscle action potentials. In this review, the leading/trailing dipole model is used to explain muscle waveform configurations in both innervated and denervated tissues. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1667-1685
Number of pages19
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 9 2000


  • Endplate spikes
  • Fibrillation potentials
  • Myotonic discharge
  • Positive sharp waves
  • Single muscle fiber discharge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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