What is an EMG/NCS Test?
An EMG/NCS is a diagnostic test that consists of two parts: the EMG (Electromyogram) and the NCS (Nerve Conduction Study). Together these tests are also often called “electrodiagnostic studies” or “nerve test” in layman’s terms. This is a set of tests that determine the function of nerves and muscles and help determine the overall health and quality of the peripheral nervous system.
Why is the test performed?
EMG/NCS is typically recommended to help diagnose the cause of symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the arms and legs. This testing can help your doctor:
Localize the source of a problem. For example: if you have hand pain/discomfort, it can differentiate between carpal tunnel syndrome (pinched nerve at the wrist), polyneuropathy (nerve dysfunction due to a condition such as diabetes), and radiculopathy (pinched nerve in the neck.)
Determine if the condition is from a nerve or muscle disorder
Rule out certain diagnoses
Give the extent of severity
Determine the prognosis
Help guide your physician if future testing is needed
How is the test performed?
The NCS portion is performed first. This consists of placing sticky electrodes on the surface of the skin in the region of the nerve that will be tested. Using a hand held stimulator, the physician conducts a small electrical impulse to the skin’s surface to evaluate individual nerve function. The impulses are quick and may cause a mild muscle twitch or transient tingling feeling in the nerves tested.
The EMG portion of the test is performed immediately following. This involves a tiny sterile pin electrode (similar to the size of an acupuncture needle) inserted into a muscle to evaluate the muscle and nerve integrity. Each muscle is tested one at a time and nothing is injected into the muscles. Multiple muscles may need to be tested based on your condition and findings from preceding muscles tested.
Who will be performing the EMG/NCS test?
Dr. Beaucoudray performs all portions of the EMG/NCS and does not employ technologists to perform any part of the study.
How long will the test take?
The EMG/NCS test is customized to each patient, depending upon the complexity of the problem being explored. On average, the testing takes about 15-20 minutes but can take longer depending upon if further testing is needed.
How should I prepare for the test?
Do not apply cream, lotion, or oil to your skin prior to the testing. Your skin should be clean, so please shower or bathe on the day of the test. Please avoid wearing excessive jewelry. Try to wear loose fitting clothing as full access is needed up to your shoulder and thigh. You can do all of your usual activities before and after the test. You may take all medications as prescribed on the day of your test, however, please notify the clinic or Dr. Beaucoudray if you are taking any blood thinning medications (such as aspirin) or if you have any bleeding disorder on the day of the test.
How soon will I find out the results of the test?
Dr. Beaucoudray will provide the results immediately following the testing with on the spot generation of your report before you leave. Outpatient referrals seen only for testing will be provided an original copy of the EMG/NCS report after completion of the testing for their records and another copy will be faxed to the ordering physician so that further decisions can be made regarding your treatment plan.