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External Sphincter Electromyography


Overview :

The patient puts on a surgical gown and lies down on the examining table. The procedure, which takes between 30-60 minutes, may be conducted one of three ways:

  • Skin electrodes. This is the most commonly used method of recording information. The skin where the electrodes will be placed is cleaned and shaved and an electrically conductive paste is applied. The electrodes are then taped in place. For female patients, the electrodes are taped around the urethra, while for male patients they are placed between the scrotum and the anus.
  • Needle electrodes. This is considered the most accurate method, since the electrodes are inserted directly into the muscle, using needles to guide placement. For male patients, a gloved finger is inserted in the rectum, then needles with wires attached are inserted through the skin between the anus and the scrotum. For female patients, the needles are inserted around the urethra. The discomfort of placing the needles is about the same as that of an injection. The needles are withdrawn, and the wires are taped to the thigh.
  • Anal plug electrodes. The tip of an anal plug is lubricated and inserted into the rectum as the patient relaxes the anal sphincter. Electrodes are attached to the anal plug.

Once the electrodes are in place and attached to the recording device, the patient is asked to alternately contract and relax the external sphincter muscle. The electrical activity generated during these contractions and relaxations is recorded on a graph called an electromyogram.




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