Ann Clin Neurophysiol.  2019 Jan;21(1):7-15. 10.14253/acn.2019.21.1.7.

Basic concepts of needle electromyography

  • 1Department of Neurology, Seoul Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Neurology, Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Cheonan, Korea.
  • 3Department of Neurology, Chung-Ang University Hospital, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Neurology, Seoul Paik Hospital, Inje University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Department of Neurology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 6Department of Neurology, Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital, Hwaseong, Korea.
  • 7Department of Neurology, Mokdong Hospital, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 8Department of Neurology, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Clinical evaluations, nerve conduction studies, and electromyography play major complementary roles in electrophysiologic diagnoses. Electromyography can be used to assess pathologic changes and localize lesions occurring in locations ranging from motor units to anterior-horn cells. Successfully performing electromyography requires knowledge of the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the peripheral nervous system as well as sufficient skill and interpretation ability. Electromyography techniques include acquiring data from visual/auditory signals and performing needle positioning, semiquantitation, and interpretation. Here we introduce the basic concepts of electromyography to guide clinicians in performing electromyography appropriately.


Electromyography; Electrodiagnosis; Needles; Neuromuscular diseases

MeSH Terms

Neural Conduction
Neuromuscular Diseases
Peripheral Nervous System


  • Fig. 1. Types and recording area of electromyography needles. (A) A concentric needle and its recording field (side view). A wire that acts as the active electrode runs through the center of the needle shaft (white), and the shaft acts as the reference electrode. (B) A monopolar needle and its recording field (side view). The needle tip without a Teflon coating acts as the active electrode, and an additional reference electrode needs to be attached to nearby skin.

  • Fig. 2. Parameters for the morphology evaluation of motor-unit action potentials.



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