University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Prognostic values of electrodiagnostic studies in traumatic radial neuropathy


Malikowski T, Micklesen PJ, Robinson LR



Publication Info:

Muscle & Nerve, 36(3):364-7


It is important to have strong predictors of outcome in traumatic neuropathies so that appropriate management can be instituted early. Our objective in this study was to evaluate the prognostic value of electrodiagnostic studies in traumatic radial neuropathy. In this retrospective study, 33 of 67 subjects with traumatic radial neuropathy met the inclusion criteria. Good outcome was defined as grade 3 or higher strength on the Medical Research Council scale in wrist extensors. Compound muscle action potential (CMAP) responses from extensor indicis proprius (EIP) predicted prognosis: 92% of subjects with a recordable CMAP had a good outcome; and 65% of those with an absent response had a good outcome. Recruitment in brachioradialis was also predictive: 92% of those with full, central, or reduced recruitment had a good outcome; 67% of those with discrete recruitment had a good outcome; and only 33% of those with absent recruitment had a good outcome. Studies performed more than 3 months after injury produced more prognostic certainty than those performed earlier. We conclude that electrodiagnostic studies produce useful prognostic information in traumatic radial neuropathy. It is noteworthy, however, that 65% of subjects with an absent radial CMAP (suggesting complete or nearly complete axon loss) still have a good outcome.

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