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Nerve Conduction Studies

What are nerve conduction studies?
Nerve conduction studies measure how well and how fast nerves send electrical signals. If you have a nerve or muscle disorder, your muscles may react in abnormal ways that a nerve conduction study can measure. Nerve conduction studies are often performed with electromyography (EMG) to provide a more complete picture of a condition.

Why are nerve conduction studies performed?
Your doctor may order a nerve conduction study to detect damage to nerves that lead away from your brain and spinal cord. A nerve conduction study can also help diagnose nerve disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

What to expect:
You will be instructed about what to wear to your appointment, what to eat before the test, how the test will be performed, and how the test will feel.

When you arrive for your nerve conduction study, several special sensors called electrodes will be attached to your skin. A shock-emitting electrode is placed directly over a nerve and a recording electrode is placed over muscles under control of that nerve.

Fast electrical pulses are sent to the nerve by the shock-emitting electrode. You may feel a quick, burning pain and you may feel your muscle twitching every time an electrical pulse is sent. The time it takes for the muscle to contract in response to the pulse is recorded by the recording electrode. The speed of the response is called the conduction velocity. To compare the conduction velocity, the same nerve and muscles on the other side of the body may be studied.

A nerve conduction study may take 15 – 60 minutes or more to complete. When the study is over, the electrodes will be removed. A full report of your nerve conduction study results may take 2 – 3 days.

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