Inclusion body myositis mimicking motor neuron disease

Ron Dabby, Dale J. Lange*, Werner Trojaborg, Arthur P. Hays, Robert E. Lovelace, Thomas H. Brannagan, Lewis P. Rowland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe the clinical and electrophysiologic features of patients with inclusion body myositis that was misinterpreted as motor neuron disease. Patients and Methods: We retrospectively retrieved the medical records of 70 patients with a pathologic diagnosis of inclusion body myositis. From this group, we selected those who had been first diagnosed as having motor neuron disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We reviewed the clinical, electrophysiologic, laboratory, and morphologic studies. Results: Nine (13%) of 70 patients with inclusion body myositis had been diagnosed as having motor neuron disease. Six of the 9 patients had asymmetric weakness; in 4 the distal arm muscles were affected. Eight patients had finger flexor weakness. Tendon reflexes were preserved in weak limbs in 6, hyperactive in 2, and absent in 1. Four patients had dysphagia. Fasciculation was seen in 2 patients, None had definite upper motor neuron signs or muscle cramps. Routine electromyographic studies showed fibrillation potentials and positive sharp waves in all 9. Fasciculation potentials were seen in 7 and long-duration polyphasic motor unit potentials were seen in 8. There was no evidence of a myogenic disorder in these 9 patients. Muscle biopsy was done because of slow progression or prominent weakness of the finger flexors and was diagnostic of inclusion body myositis. A quantitative electromyogram was myopathic in 4 of the 5 patients studied. Conclusions: Inclusion body myositis may mimic motor neuron disease. Muscle biopsy and quantitative electromyographic analysis are indicated in patients with atypical motor neuron disease, especially those with slow progression or early and disproportionate weakness of the finger flexors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1256
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Neurology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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