Turkish Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2021 , Vol 67 , Num 4

When is needle examination of thenar muscle necessary in the evaluation of mild and moderate carpal tunnel syndrome?

Zuhal Özişler 1 ,Müfit Akyüz 2
1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ankara City Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
2 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Karabuk University, Faculty of Medicine, Karabuk, Turkey
DOI : 10.5606/tftrd.2021.8555 Objectives: This study aims to evaluate the predictors of standard nerve conduction study (NCS) parameters in determining the presence of axonal loss by means of spontaneous activity in patients with mild and moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Patients and methods: Between May 2015 and April 2018, a total of 118 patients (11 males, 107 females; mean age: 52.3±10.6 years; range, 27 to 79 years) who underwent electrophysiological studies and were diagnosed with CTS were included. Demographic data of the patients including age, sex, and symptom duration were recorded. Electrodiagnostic studies were performed in all patients. All the needle electromyography (EMG) findings were recorded, but only the presence or absence of spontaneous EMG activities was used as the indicator of axonal injury.

Results: In 37 (31.4%) of the patients, spontaneous activity was detected at the thenar muscle needle EMG. No spontaneous activity was observed in any of 43 (36.4%) patients with normal distal motor latency (DML). There were significant differences in DMLs, compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitudes, sensory nerve action potentials amplitudes, and sensory nerve conduction velocities between the groups with and without spontaneous activity (p<0.05). The multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that DML was a significant independent risk variable in determining presence of spontaneous activity. The most optimal cut-off value for median DML was calculated as 4.9 ms. If the median DML was >4.9 ms, the relative risk of finding spontaneous activity on thenar muscle needle EMG was 13.5 (95% CI: 3.6-51.2).

Conclusion: Distal motor latency is the main parameter for predicting the presence of spontaneous activity in mild and moderate CTS patients with normal CMAP. Performing needle EMG of the thenar muscle in CTS patients with a DML of >4.9 ms may be beneficial to detect axonal degeneration in early stages. Keywords : Carpal tunnel syndrome, needle electromyography, spontaneous activity, thenar muscle