Nerve conduction studies and an EMG (electromyogram) help diagnose the causes of symptoms such as numbness or weakness in parts of the body. Your doctor is likely to recommend them as part of a package of scans and tests.
A referral letter from a consultant or GP is required before booking any diagnostic investigation.
Your doctor is likely to recommend these tests to help diagnose symptoms such as numbness and weakness in specific parts of the body. They will interpret the results alongside those from other tests and scans.
Nerve conduction tests can help diagnose conditions affecting the peripheral nervous system (the nerves that lead away from the brain and spinal cord) such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The test involves passing a split second electrical pulse through particular nerves via small sticky electrode pads attached to your skin.
Sometimes your doctor will also ask that an EMG is carried out at the same time. This involves inserting a very fine electrode into the muscle to record the electrical activity when it contracts. You generally feel only a scratch when the electrode is inserted using a very thin acupuncture-like needle. An EMG can identify damage to muscle tissue and nerves.
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You will need a referral letter from a consultant or GP before booking any diagnostic investigation.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
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Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
When your test is being conducted, please tell us if you have a pacemaker, an implanted cardioverter or a cardiac defibrillator of if you are taking blood thinning medication.
You shouldn't use moisturiser on the day of the test as it can interfere with the results.
We understand that having any medical procedure, even one as relatively straightforward as nerve tests, can cause anxiety. Our professional and caring medical staff will be there to reassure you throughout.
You’ll be lying on a table or sitting in a reclining chair for this procedure.
Your doctor will start the nerve condition study by applying electrodes (small, sticky pads) to your skin. They’ll apply an electrical pulse lasting one-thousandth of a second through the pad to test the nerve response. You might feel an instantaneous tapping sensation and the test might feel uncomfortable and briefly increase your usual symptoms for a few minutes.
Your doctor will record the size, shape and speed of responses from the nerves.
If you are also having an EMG, your doctor will insert an electrode into the muscle with a very fine needle. The needle is like those used in acupuncture and should not cause too much discomfort although you may have some bruising and soreness afterwards.
The electrode is attached to a machine that will record the electrical activity in the muscle as you tighten and release it when asked to do so by your doctor.
The whole procedure takes around 30 minutes.
Sometimes the doctor carrying out the tests is able to discuss preliminary results with you at the end of the consultation.
However usually they need to be considered alongside the results of other scans and investigations so you need an appointment with the referring consultant.
We’ll send the results to the consultant who referred you within a couple of days.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
We're a 40-minute drive from London Stansted Airport and 15 minutes from Cambridge train station, which has direct links into London's King's Cross and Liverpool Street stations.
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