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An evaluation of neurophysiological criteria used in the diagnosis of motor neuron disease
  1. C P Douglass1,
  2. R H Kandler2,
  3. P J Shaw3,
  4. C J McDermott3
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Department of Neurophysiology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Department of Neuroscience, Academic Neurology Unit, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr C J McDermott, Department of Neuroscience, Academic Neurology Unit, E Floor, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Beech Hill Road, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK; c.j.mcdermott{at}


Background New criteria for the neurophysiological diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease (ALS/MND) were recently proposed at an international symposium in Awaji-shima, Japan. They differ from the accepted revised El-Escorial criteria by considering fasciculation potentials to be evidence of acute denervation. In addition, when assessing diagnostic certainty, the Awaji-shima criteria equate electrodiagnostic evidence of lower motor neuron dysfunction with clinical examination findings.

Methods A retrospective review of 205 consecutive sets of notes was performed, from patients who underwent neurophysiological assessment for suspected MND. The clinical signs and neurophysiological findings were combined according to the two sets of criteria (revised El-Escorial and Awaji-shima), and the diagnoses reached were compared with the interval diagnosis, to establish the sensitivities and specificities of each protocol.

Results An interval diagnosis of MND was recorded in 107 patients. The sensitivity of the Awaji-shima criteria in reaching a diagnosis of MND was 60.7% and the revised El-Escorial 28%, with a specificity of 95.9% for both criteria. The Awaji-shima criteria increased the sensitivity of diagnosis without affecting the specificity.

Conclusion Accepting EMG evidence of fasciculations as evidence of acute denervation increases the diagnostic certainty of MND, and the new criteria allow earlier diagnosis of MND without increasing the false-positive rate.

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • motor neuron disease
  • neurophysiology
  • electromyography
  • EMG

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  • Linked article 204594.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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