What are Nerve Electrical Studies?

Nerve Electrical Studies

In order to better understand some disease processes, your doctor may order a kind of study which will help to make an accurate diagnosis. Understanding the way that nerves within the body are functioning and responding to electrical stimulation can help to see the whole picture in treating pain, muscle weakness, numbness and other medical conditions.

There are several kinds of nerve electrical studies performed in our offices.

EMG – or Electromyogram Test

Muscles respond to and emit electrical impulses. In a healthy body, these impulses follow regular patterns that can be measured using small electrodes during an electromyogram test (EMG).

  • Intramuscular EMG – Involves insertion of a needle electrode into the muscle being measured. It is the most direct way of measuring electrical activity within muscle cells.
  • Surface EMG – Electrodes are place on the skin directly over muscles being measured.

NCV – or Nerve Conduction Velocity Test

In the nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, a nerve is electrically stimulated by one electrode, and other electrodes in another location measure the time it takes to register the nerve response triggered by the stimulating electrode. Measuring the distance between electrodes and the time it takes for electrical impulses to travel between electrodes helps to calculate the speed, or nerve conduction velocity (NCV). Slower speeds can indicate nerve damage or disease.

It is common to order and perform these tests at the same time, in order to better understand if the muscle tissue or the nerve cells or both are involved in a condition.

DISCLAIMER: Do not use the information provided on this page for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Only a consultation with a licensed medical professional can offer a proper diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites or information are provided as a convenient reference – they should not be construed as an endorsement of another site.

Check out the information we have on the various neurological tests we administer, such as our Sleep Study Program.