EMG (Electromyography) & NCS (Nerve Conduction Studies)

A.  What is EMG/NCS?

This is a specialized electrical test of your muscles and nerves.  It consists of two parts. First NCV (Nerve Copnduction Study) is performed by a technologist using a small electrical impulse to stimulate the nerve and record the response from nerve/ muscle. Thena second part is called EMG or ectromyography, which consists of a needle exam (very small, thin needle inserted into your muscles to record electrical activity) performed by the physician. The EMG part is performed in conjunction with NCV and is not always needed. Your physician’s request for the type of the test and your exam determines the need and extent of the testing.

B.  Why am I getting an EMG/NCS?

The purpose of the test is to identify and localize where your symptoms are coming from.  These symptoms can be: Pain, Weakness, Numbness and Tingling. Some common disorders that are confirmed by EMG/NCS:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Myopathy
  • Radiculopathy (pinched nerve)
  • Sciatica or Lumbar radiculopathy
  • Trauma

C.  How do I prepare for the EMG/NCS? 

  • Take a shower the day of test (night before is okay); do not use any vaseline, lotion. oils, skin conditioners, medicated soap or moisterizing soap
  • Wear loose fitting clothes; bring shorts to wear with lower extremity tests (feet and legs)
  • Follow your physicians instructions regarding your medication.
  • Arrive at your scheduled time, being late more than 15 minutes could result in your appointment being rescheduled.

D.  What to expect during your EMG/NCS?

  • An EMG Physician will take a brief history about any injuries and symptoms you are experiencing and complete a short physical exam.
  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • A heating pack may be applied to the area being tested to maintain skin temperature
  • A technologist will comnplete the NCS portion of the test.  They will clean the area's being tested with some alcohol, take some quick measurements and mark the area's being tested.
  • Sticky electrodes will be placed over the area being tested.  The electrodes will be connected to the equipment with three wires.  The technologist will then deliver and an electrical stimulus (small electrical impulse) to the nerve .  The stimulus may be applied to several points along the nerve.
  • After the technologist completes the NCS portion, the results are reviewed by the EMG Physician.  After the review, the technologist may need to return and complete additional studies.
  • If no other studies are required the physician will enter the room and complete the EMG portion of the test.  They will take a very small needle and insert it into some of the muscles in the area's being tested.  There will be a  sound of muscle fibers working when the needle is inserted.  The physician may ask you to perform some simple tasks during the study.
  • Once the test has been completed, you will get dressed an go home.
  • There are generally no complications associated with this study, only some redness or tenderness in the areas where the study was performed.  A cold compress can be used to relieve the slight discomfort, if necessary.

E.  How do I get my results?

Results from your test are generally completed within 24-48 hours.  The results will be communicated back to your physician that ordered the study.