A nerve conduction test is performed to detect injury in the nerve. This is done by measuring the velocity of electrical impulses passing through the nerves of an individual. The test involves the stimulation of nerves through electrode patches fixed to the individual’s skin.
A nerve conduction study involves the combination of two electrodes placed on the skin of individual above the nerves. The function of one electrode is to stimulate the nerve with minor electrical impulse and the other electrode is to record the electrical activity. The process is repeated for every nerve being tested. Velocity is calculated by calibrating the distance between two electrodes and the time duration taken by the impulse to travel amongst electrodes.
Nerve conduction study (NCS) and Electromyography (EMG) are both conducted together to differentiate between nerve and muscle disorder. The problem related to the nerve can be detected by NCS. While the EMG nerve conduction study detects the response of muscle concerning the nerve’s stimulus.
Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction, both are useful in the detection of muscle and nerve disorders. EMG checks the correctness of the nerve signal. When both are done simultaneously, they help to check whether the symptoms are due to nerve problem or muscle disorder.
These tests can diagnose the following disorders:
Guillain-Barré syndrome: In this disorder, peripheral nervous system is impacted and attacked by the body’s immune system.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease: A hereditary condition where both motor and sensory nerves are affected.
Herniated disk disease: In this disease, the fibrous cartilage around the disks of vertebrae collapses. This causes the gelatinous substance to breakout from the disk, which further pressurises the spinal cord.
Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy and neuropathy: This disorder can result from alcohol consumption or diabetes.
Sciatic nerve problems: This can be due to the rupturing of the spinal disk, thereby adding pressure on nerve roots.
This is an outpatient procedure conducted by a neurologist. When you arrive, you will have to get rid of jewellery, eyeglasses, hearing aids and clothes that can obstruct the procedure. After which, you will put on a surgical gown.
The neurologist will locate the nerve. He or she will attach a recording electrode with the use of a special adhesive on the skin over the nerve. A stimulating record will be placed at a distance from the recording electrode. To stimulate the nerve, the stimulating electrode will send light and short electrical shocks.
The patient may experience slight discomfort for a few seconds. The neurologist will observe the nerve stimulation and its response on the monitor. The neurologist will remove the adhesive after the procedure.
Some of the risks associated with the procedure include:
Results are evaluated against standard velocities. Things that can impact the results include age, gender, pain, body temperature, part of the body tested or the place where the patient lives. If the velocity range falls outside the standard range, it means that the nerve is damaged or diseased. The nerve damage can be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, traumatic median nerve damage or acute inflammatory polyneuropathy.
The patient may feel minor uneasiness for few seconds when an impulse is passed. After the test, the patient will feel no pain.
It detects how rapidly transmission of an electrical impulse moves down a nerve, thereby diagnosing injury in the nerve.
The procedure takes 15 minutes to an hour. Time varies depending on the amount of nerves and muscles being tested.
Neurologists typically performs the nerve conduction study.