The “enhanced N35” somatosensory evoked potential: its associations and potential utility in the clinical evaluation of dystonia and myoclonus
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In median nerve somatosensory evoked potentials, the cortical N35 amplitude sometimes exceeds the P25 amplitude (C3’/C4’ referred to Fz; “enhanced N35” feature). Six hundred consecutive patient median nerve SEPs were retrospectively analysed and compared with 27 controls. The feature was more often present in patients with dystonia (62%) than in patients with other disorders (22%; relative risk for the condition 2.8; Fisher’s exact p = 0.003) or control subjects (7.4%; odds ratio 20; p = 0.0006). Similarly, the feature was more often present in patients with myoclonus (38%) than in patients with other disorders (22%; relative risk 1.7; p = 0.02) or control subjects (odds ratio 7.5; p = 0.006).There was no clear relationship of the feature to short latency SEP abnormalities except in cases of myoclonus. Further comparison was made of the characteristics of 72 patients each, with and without the feature, whose short latency SEP components were normal. The relationship of the feature to dystonia or myoclonus held true in this case-controlled arm of the study. The sensitivity and specificity were 65% and 78% respectively for any form of dystonia; 43% and 79% respectively for any form of myoclonus. The feature was even more specific in both conditions when compared with controls (93%). Most cases of dystonia with an identifiable cause in this study were of secondary forms. It is known that this feature often occurs in association with “giant” SEPs in some myoclonic conditions. However, its occurrence in dystonia may be a useful new finding in an established test, helping to identify a condition where there is increasing evidence for disordered sensorimotor integration.
Keywordssomatosensory evoked potential N35 myoclonus dystonia multiple sclerosis
We thank Laura Fabiano, and Philip Allen, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology; Hilary Watt, medical statistician for the Institute of Neurology.
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