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Original Article

Comparative study of the diagnostic value of EMG-NCV and MRI in patients with radicular pain in the neck and back

Behzad Eskandaroghli, Ghasem Fattahzadeh-Ardalani, Nemat Hydaroghli.

Introduction: Spinal radiculopathy is the most common cause of back pain and pain of upper or lower limb. Radiography (MRI or X-ray) and electrodiagnostic measures, including EMG-NCV, can be employed for diagnosis of radiculopathy. Each of the mentioned diagnostic methods has its own limitations. Thus, a comparative study between these methods is essential for accurate diagnosis of patients with clinical symptoms of radiculopathy.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 96 patients with radicular back pain who had visited neurology clinic in Ardabil Hospital were enrolled. All the patients had MRI, EMG, and NCV results in their files so the present study did not impose any excessive costs on the patients. MRI was used as the diagnostic gold standard and other tests were compared with it. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were estimated for each test.
Findings: The results of this study indicated a relatively high diagnostic value of lumbar radiculopathy for EMG test and it had a relatively high compatibility with the results of MRI test. Unlike EMG, NCV test did not show any significant agreement with MRI results. Also it was recommended that EMG for back be done with high obsession when necessary.
Conclusions: Doing EMG test in patients with radicular pain can be a helpful diagnostic test for spinal radiculopathies and NCV test is not worth doing for diagnosis of radiculopathy of the spine.

Key words: Radiculopathy, Electromyography (EMG), MRI, Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV)

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