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Electromyography (EMG) for suspected cervical or lumbosacral root compression is often negative, producing expense and physical discomfort that could have been avoided. To improve patient selection for testing, we sought to identify clinical features that would accurately predict presence of radiculopathy on EMG.
Adult patients consecutively evaluated for suspected cervical or lumbosacral root compression at an academic clinical neurophysiology laboratory were prospectively enrolled. Presence of clinical features suggesting root disease (neck or back pain, dermatomal pain or numbness, myotomal weakness, segmental reflex loss, and straight leg-raising) was recorded prior to testing. EMG examination to confirm root compression was conducted per standard protocols. Analysis was based on computation of sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, and accuracy.
A total of 200 patients (55% male; mean age 46.4 years; 38% suspected of cervical and 62% of lumbosacral disease) were included. EMG evidence of root disease was detected in 31% of cervical and 62% of lumbosacral referrals. Dermatomal pain was the most sensitive, and segmental reflex loss and myotomal weakness the most specific individual predictors of root disease. Combined presence of dermatomal pain or numbness with segmental reflex loss and myotomal weakness approached specificities of 78% (lumbosacral disease) and 99% (cervical disease). In all cases, myotomal weakness was the most accurate predictor of root disease.
The diverse symptoms and signs of cervical and lumbosacral root compression predict a positive electrodiagnosis of radiculopathy with varying degrees of accuracy, and may be used to guide patient selection for EMG testing.
There are no studies from Pakistan that describe stroke presentation rates or factors associated with early or delayed presentation. This is important to know because current clinical protocols limit the use of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA), the only available therapy for acute ischemic stroke, to a three-hour window from symptom onset.
All patients aged 14 years or above with acute ischemic stroke of ≤ 48 hours duration were prospectively identified from the Aga Khan University Stroke Data Bank over a 22-month period ending May 2001.
269 ischemic stroke patients presented within 48 hours of stroke onset. 55 out of 269 (21%) presented within first three hours and 110 out of 269 (41%) within first six hours. Unawareness of treatment options (p <0.001) and inappropriate diagnosis and field triage (p=0.005) were associated with delayed presentation. Small vessel occlusion or lacunar stroke in the TOAST (Trial of ORG 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment) ischemic stroke subtype was associated with delayed presentation (p=0.047) and cardioembolic stroke was associated with earlier presentation (p=0.048). Stroke severity assessed with the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale at a cut off score of ≥ 15 was not associated with earlier time to presentation at three hours (p=0.114) but there was some tendency at six hours (p=0.097).
The rate of early stroke presentation in a Pakistani tertiary care facility is comparable to certain developed countries. To increase the proportion of patients who can benefit from thrombolytic therapy, programs need to be instituted to increase public awareness of treatment options for stroke and expedited referral by the primary care provider.
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