Medical Definition of Surface EMG

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Surface EMG: A technique in which electrodes are placed on (not into) the skin overlying a muscle to detect the electrical activity of the muscle.

Surface EMG (SEMG) has some attractive features. Most notably, it does not involve piercing the skin and does not hurt. However, the American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine notes that: "There is in fact almost no literature to support the use of SEMG in the clinical diagnosis and management of nerve or muscle disease." Still, the SEMG may prove of value in the future in helping to monitor the progression of disorders of nerves and muscles.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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