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Having EMG and NCS Tests

You will be having electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) to measure muscle and nerve function. In most cases, both tests are performed. NCS is most often done first. You will be asked to lie on an exam table with a blanket over you. You may have one or both of the following:

Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)

During NCS, mild electrical currents are used to test how fast impulses move along your nerves. Small metal disks (electrodes) will be attached to your skin on the area of your body being tested. This will be done using water-based gel or paste. A doctor or technologist will apply mild electrical currents to your skin. Your muscles will twitch, but the test won’t harm you. Currents may again be applied to the same area. Or, the test may continue on other parts of your body.

Palm view of hand and forearm with electrode on hand and EMG device inserted in skin on wrist.

Electromyography (EMG)

Most of the electrodes will be removed for EMG. The doctor or technologist will clean the area being tested with alcohol. A fine needle will be inserted into the muscles in this region. When the needle is inserted, you may feel as if your skin is being pinched. Try to relax and do as instructed.

Cross section of skin and muscle showing EMG probe inserted through skin into muscle. Electrode is on surface of skin.
During EMG, a fine needle is inserted into your muscle through your skin.

Man lying in hospital bed. Healthcare provider is holding an EMG device against man's right forearm.

After Your Test

Before you leave, all electrodes will be removed. You can then get right back to your normal routine. If you feel tired or have some discomfort, take it easy. If you were told to stop taking any medications for your test, ask when you can start taking them again. Your doctor will let you know when your test results are ready.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011

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