Electroretinogram (ERG) and visual-evoked potentials (VEPs) are used in veterinary ophthalmology to assess the functional integrity of the retina and the central visual pathway. The interpretation of altered electrophysiologic potentials in diseases can be of great diagnostic value, although it is important to be aware of technical factors and the limitations of these techniques which may result in over-interpretation and misinterpretation of the recordings, such that they are similar to those found in disease-related electrophysiologic changes. The recorded potentials represent the differences in voltage between the active and reference electrodes. The ground electrode serves as zero. A differential or instrumentation amplifier selectively amplifies signals of interest while rejecting noise. Differences between inputs are amplified, whereas common signals are rejected in a process called common mode rejection (CMR). In order for CMR to be most effective in reducing noise, the electrode impedances should be balanced. Filters are part of the differential amplifier as they remove unwanted noise of a certain frequency. The frequency bandwidth, or passband, is the range of frequencies between low- and high-frequency filter settings that are not filtered out. Major sources of noise that cause interpretation artifacts are power lines, amplifier noise, physiologic activity, electrochemical electrode noise and circular grounds. Noise reduction is achieved with high amplifier input impedance, balanced electrode impedances, CMR, filters and signal averaging. Maintaining electrodes in good condition, achieving proper contact between electrode and animal, and keeping electrode leads short aid in achieving noise reduction.
- Common mode rejection
- Differential amplifier