Nerve Conduction Testing
What Is Nerve Conduction Testing?
Nerve conduction testing, also known as a nerve conduction study (NCS), is a diagnostic test that determines the extent of nerve damage. Commonly referred to as a nerve conduction velocity, this test measures the speed at which an electrical impulse travels through a nerve. Often performed in conjunction with electromyography, EMG, this test can differentiate nervous system complications from musculoskeletal issues. Additionally, nerve conduction testing can pinpoint the source of the damage and diagnose the cause.
What Can An NCS Diagnose?
At Park Avenue Endocrinology and Nutrition, we use nerve conduction studies for the evaluation of paresthesias (numbness, tingling, burning) and/or weakness of the arms and legs. Some of the common disorders we can diagnose or rule out by nerve conduction studies are:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Ulnar neuropathy
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
- Spinal disc herniation
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Sciatic nerve problems
The NCV Procedure
An NCV test can be an outpatient procedure or done during a hospital stay. First, a member of our staff will place two electrodes on your skin. One electrode will stimulate your nerve with an electrical pulse. Then, the recording electrode, placed at a precise distance away, records how fast the nerve reacted to the stimulation. We repeat this process in various spots on the body for each nerve being tested. The placement will vary by patient and will coordinate with places we presume affected nerves are. The nerve conduction velocity test takes a total of about 10 minutes.
Nerve Conduction Study Risks
A nerve conduction study is noninvasive and the voltage of electrical pulses are considered very low. Therefore, patients normally do not experience any side effects. However, if a patient has sensitive skin they may have some irritation from the gel used to attach electrodes. There may be some discomfort during the exam but patients can typically resume normal activities immediately. If you have a cardiac defibrillator, pacemaker, or any underlying conditions notify our staff before the exam as we may need to take special precautions.