Assessment of the motor unit architecture based on concentric electrode motor unit potentials requires a thorough understanding of the recording characteristics of the concentric EMG electrode. Previous simulation studies have attempted to include the effect of EMG electrodes on the recorded waveforms by uniformly averaging the tissue potential at the coordinates of one- or two-dimensional electrode models. By employing the boundary element method, this paper improves earlier models of the concentric EMG electrode by including an accurate geometric representation of the electrode, as well as the mutual electrical influence between the electrode surfaces. A three-dimensional sensitivity function is defined from which information about the preferential direction of sensitivity, blind spots, phase changes, rate of attenuation, and range of pick-up radius can be derived. The study focuses on the intrinsic features linked to the geometry of the electrode. The results show that the cannula perturbs the potential distribution significantly. The core and the cannula electrodes measure potentials of the same order of magnitude in all of the pick-up range, except adjacent to the central wire, where the latter dominates the sensitivity function. The preferential directions of sensitivity are determined by.the amount of geometric offset between the individual sensitivity functions of the core and the cannula. The sensitivity function also reveals a complicated pattern of phase changes in the pick-up range. Potentials from fibers located behind the tip or along the cannula are recorded with reversed polarity compared to those located in front of the tip. Rotation of the electrode about its axis was found to alter the duration, the peak-to-peak amplitude, and the rise time of waveforms recorded from a moving dipole.
I E E E Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 1993, Vol 40, Issue 7, p. 621-631