Dissociated leg muscle atrophy in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease: the ‘split-leg’ sign

Young Gi Min, Seok Jin Choi, Yoon Ho Hong, Sung Min Kim, Je Young Shin, Jung Joon Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Disproportionate muscle atrophy is a distinct phenomenon in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); however, preferentially affected leg muscles remain unknown. We aimed to identify this split-leg phenomenon in ALS and determine its pathophysiology. Patients with ALS (n = 143), progressive muscular atrophy (PMA, n = 36), and age-matched healthy controls (HC, n = 53) were retrospectively identified from our motor neuron disease registry. We analyzed their disease duration, onset region, ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised Scores, and results of neurological examination. Compound muscle action potential (CMAP) of the extensor digitorum brevis (EDB), abductor hallucis (AH), and tibialis anterior (TA) were reviewed. Defined by CMAPEDB/CMAPAH (SIEDB) and CMAPTA/CMAPAH (SITA), respectively, the values of split-leg indices (SI) were compared between these groups. SIEDB was significantly reduced in ALS (p < 0.0001) and PMA (p < 0.0001) compared to the healthy controls (HCs). SITA reduction was more prominent in PMA (p < 0.05 vs. ALS, p < 0.01 vs. HC), but was not significant in ALS compared to the HCs. SI was found to be significantly decreased with clinical lower motor neuron signs (SIEDB), while was rather increased with clinical upper motor neuron signs (SITA). Compared to the AH, TA and EDB are more severely affected in ALS and PMA patients. Our findings help to elucidate the pathophysiology of split-leg phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15661
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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