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Magnetic Measurement of Electrically Evoked Muscle Responses With Optically Pumped Magnetometers

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Electroneurography has been an essential method for assessing peripheral nerve disorders for decades. During this procedure, a nerve is briefly electrically excited, and nerve conduction properties are identified by indirect means from the behavior of the innervated muscle. The magnetic field of the resulting muscle response can also be recorded by novel, uncooled magnetometers, which have become very attractive for different medical applications over recent years. These highly sensitive magnetometers are called optically pumped magnetometers. Methods: We performed unaveraged and averaged magnetic signal detection of electrically evoked muscle responses using optically pumped magnetometers. We then discussed the suitability of this procedure for clinical applications in the context of diagnostic value and in direct comparison with the current electrical gold standard. Results: The magnetic detection of muscle responses is possible using optically pumped magnetometers. Our magnetic results (averaged and unaveraged) closely match those from electrical measurements. Conclusion: Optically pumped magnetometers provide an alternative, contactless technology for electrode-based motor studies, but they are currently not ready for routine clinical use. This costly technology requires additional earth magnetic shielding because this is a prerequisite for proper operation. Currently, there are no diagnostic advantages over electrical measurements. Additionally, the required measurement setup and procedure are much more complicated. Significance: In contrast to already published proof-of-principle studies for magnetomyography, we report in detail the results of the magnetic measurements of electrically evoked muscle responses in a shielded environment by applying supramaximal stimulation and finally validate our findings with electroneurography data as a reference.

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