Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)

A nerve conduction study, also called a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, measures the speed of electrical signals through a nerve. The NCV test may be performed to detect nerve damage or destruction and may be used to diagnose specific neurological conditions, including myopathy and myasthenia gravis.

Electromyography (EMG) is a related test that may be performed at the same time.

During the nerve conduction study, the doctor or technician tapes two sets of flat patches called electrodes (similar to those used for an EKG) on the skin over the muscles.

The first set of electrodes is used to send small pulses of electricity (similar to the sensation of static electricity) to stimulate the nerve that directs a particular muscle. The second set of electrodes transmits the responding electrical signal to a recording machine.

The doctor then reviews the response to verify any nerve damage or muscle disease.

Patients who are preparing to take a nerve conduction velocity test may be asked to avoid caffeine and not smoke for 2 to 3 hours prior to the test, as well as to avoid aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for 24 hours. There is no discomfort or risk associated with this test.

Last updated January 12, 2012

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