Diagnostic accuracy of the EMG parameters associated with anterior knee pain in the diagnosis of patellofemoral pain syndrome

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Objective To assess the diagnostic accuracy of the surface electromyography (sEMG) parameters associated with referred anterior knee pain in diagnosing patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). Design Sensitivity and specificity analysis. Setting Physical rehabilitation center and laboratory of biomechanics and motor control. Participants Pain-free subjects (n=29) and participants with PFPS (n=22) selected by convenience. Interventions Not applicable. Main Outcome Measure The diagnostic accuracy was calculated for sEMG parameters’ reliability, precision, and ability to differentiate participants with and without PFPS. The selected sEMG parameter associated with anterior knee pain was considered as an index test and was compared with the reference standard for the diagnosis of PFPS. Intraclass correlation coefficient, SEM, independent t tests, sensitivity, specificity, negative and positive likelihood ratios, and negative and positive predictive values were used for the statistical analysis. Results The medium-frequency band (B2) parameter was reliable (intraclass correlation coefficient=.80–.90), precise (SEM=2.71–3.87 normalized unit), and able to differentiate participants with and without PFPS (P<.05). The association of B2 with anterior knee pain showed positive diagnostic accuracy values (specificity, .87; sensitivity, .70; negative likelihood ratio, .33; positive likelihood ratio, 5.63; negative predictive value, .72; and positive predictive value, .86). Conclusions The results provide evidence to support the use of EMG signals (B2 – frequency band of 45–96Hz) of the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis muscles with referred anterior knee pain in the diagnosis of PFPS.



Anterior knee pain syndrome, Electromyography, Rehabilitation, Sensitivity, Specificity

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Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, v. 95, p. 1521-1526, 2014.