J Clin Neurol.  2011 Mar;7(1):31-33. 10.3988/jcn.2011.7.1.31.

Repetitive Nerve Stimulation Test in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with Predominant Oropharyngeal Manifestations

  • 1Department of Neurology, Myongji Hospital, College of Medicine, Kwandong University, Goyang, Korea.
  • 2Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. sunwooin@yuhs.ac


AND PURPOSE: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients display easy fatigability and abnormal decrements on repetitive nerve stimulation (RNS) test of clinically involved limb muscles, which can result in ALS being misdiagnosed as myasthenia gravis. We retrospectively analyzed the RNS tests of ten ALS patients with only or predominant oropharyngeal symptoms without ocular or facial weakness.
RNS tests were performed on the abductor digiti quinti, flexor carpi ulnaris, orbicularis oculi (OO), nasalis and trapezius muscles at low-rate stimulation frequencies of 3 and 5-Hz. Decrements greater than 10% of the compound muscle action potential amplitude on the fifth stimulation compared to the first was regarded as abnormal.
Six patients complained of muscular fatigue or diurnal fluctuation. Among the ten patients, three exhibited abnormal decrements during low-rate stimulation in the facial muscles but not in the limb muscles, two exhibited abnormal decrements in the OO and nasalis muscles, and one exhibited abnormal decrements in the OO muscle.
These findings show that the facial muscles may be involved in some early oropharyngeal forms of ALS, although facial weakness may not be clinically evident. We confirm herein that abnormal decrement of facial muscles to RNS test cannot make a definite diagnose for myasthenia gravis.


amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; repetitive nerve stimulation test; facial muscles
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