Single motor unit potentials recorded from surface electrodes over the extensor digitorum brevis muscle and evoked by stimulation of the anterior tibial nerve at the ankle were obtained by a computer subtraction method. Their latencies, durations, amplitudes, and areas were measured in control subjects and patients with Duchenne, limb-girdle, facioscapulohumeral, and myotonic muscular dystrophy. Lateral popliteal motor nerve conduction velocities were also recorded. In the muscular dystrophies there was a significant increase in both the latencies and durations of motor unit potentials, the latter in notable contrast with the findings of conventional needle electromyography. Fastest motor conduction velocities were significantly reduced in the limb-girdle, facioscapulohumeral, and myotonic muscular dystrophy patients, while the shortest distal motor latencies were significantly prolonged in these patients and those with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The results support the presence of a definitive neurogenic influence in the muscular dystrophies.
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