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Nerve Conduction Study

What is a Nerve Conduction Study?

Also known as an electromyogram or EMG, a nerve conduction study measures electrical impulses sent by muscles in a resting mode and during action or contraction modes. The study stimulates nerves in the muscles. It's used as a diagnostic tool to determine the function or blockage of nerves or neural pathways.

How is it Performed?

You'll be asked to lie down on a table while electrodes are attached to your skin with paste or tape. The electrodes are small metal disks usually inserted into white self-adhesive sticker-like coverings.

A wire from the electrode is attached to a small machine that a technician uses to record and measure reaction of your muscle or muscles to small jolts of electrical stimulation. Several pulses are generally delivered at a time. You may feel the muscle twitch, or feel a slight tingling or burning sensation while the electrical impulse travels through the muscle.

Low voltage electrical impulses are used, and some people experience slight discomfort, but usually not severe. The process measures the time it takes for your muscle to contract following the electrical stimulation. This time frame is called conduction velocity.

Benefits

  • Identify and diagnose nerve damage
  • Test efficacy of nerve pathways
  • Diagnose mild nerve damage that helps prevent worsening damage or destruction to nerves caused by disease
  • Diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome

Uses

  • Identify nerve damage
  • Find and analyze function of nerves leading from the brain to the spinal cord
  • Test nerve function of nerves extending from the spinal cord to other parts of the body
  • Diagnose nerve disorders
  • Determine cause of nerve damage symptoms such as numbness or tingling

How Long Does it Take?

Depending on the area being tested, a nerve conduction study test may take as few as 15 minutes once the electrodes are attached. The process may take longer if more than one area of the body is being tested.