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Electromyography – EMG with Nerve Conduction Studies
Home > Patient Education > Electromyography – EMG with Nerve Conduction Studies

Preparation for your Procedure

Welcome and thank you for choosing Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center for your EMG. Our physicians, nurses and technologists are dedicated to providing highly skilled and compassionate care for you and your family. We understand that you may be apprehensive about your procedure. We hope the following information will be helpful to you as you prepare

The EMG testing is done at the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute at 1450 Scalp Avenue on the 2nd floor in Suite 2100.

We want to make your experience as comfortable as possible. If you have any questions or concerns that are not answered here, please do not hesitate to call your physician or the EMG Unit at 814-269-5211between 8 AM and 3 PM.

Before your Procedure

Once your physician’s office orders your test our referral department will call to schedule you. Your physician or the specialist performing the test may order you to hold certain medications prior to the exam. You will be provided any necessary instructions and we will send you an instruction sheet. If you can’t remember when you are scheduled please call EMG Scheduling at 814-269-5211 and select option 4.

Day of your Procedure

Shower or bathe the morning of your procedure. Please wear loose fitting, clean, and comfortable clothing. Please do not wear lotions, oils or creams on your body.

Do not use nicotine or consume any caffeine for four hours prior to your test. Avoid chocolate, coffee, tea, sodas or any other products containing caffeine.

If there are no contraindications or instructions from your physician and you have used mild over-the-counter pain relievers in the past it may help reduce the discomfort of the exam. It will work best if taken about an hour prior to the test.

Please bring any order that your physician’s office provided for you. If you were not contacted by pre-certification please bring your identification and insurance cards. If you have questions about your insurance coverage or pre-certification, call your insurance company. If you are not covered by insurance, please make arrangements for payment by calling the business office at 814-410-8470.

Children under 18 years of age or incapacitated adults must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You may be accompanied by one adult family member or friend. Children should not accompany adults having a procedure.

Upon arrival at the JPMNPI at 1450 Scalp Avenue park in the front of the building. Take the elevators to the 2nd floor. The elevator opens into our patient waiting area. Sign in at the desk.

Healthcare professionals will be available in this area to make you comfortable and to answer your questions. Your safety is our number one priority.

The staff may ask you the same questions several times; they will ask your name and birth date. By repeating our questions, we are verifying and re-verifying very important information to ensure that your time with us is as safe as possible. You will be asked to sign a consent form that legally permits the physician to perform your procedure

During the Procedure

You will be taken into the procedure room. You may be asked to disrobe and put on a hospital gown. You will either sit or lie down on an exam table depending on the nerves and muscles being tested. If necessary, you will be covered with a blanket to protect your privacy as much as possible. There will be an EMG machine on a table next to you that looks like a computer.

You will be seen by the Neurologist or Physiatrist who will do an assessment. Let them know if you have a pacemaker or other electrical devices; are taking any blood thinners; have any bleeding tendencies; or have immune system problems. You will also be asked if you’ve ever had any neck or back surgery. The physician will explain everything that is happening and answer any questions you may have. Then the physician will perform your exam.

Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) are tests that measure muscle and nerve function. The tests are often performed together with the NCS done first.

The NCS checks how quickly impulses travel between nerves. You will have small metal disks, called recording electrodes, attached to your skin with conduction gel on one part of your limb or body. Mild electrical currents are delivered from the machine through a pair of electrodes attached to another part of that limb or your body. This is delivered as a brief electric shock. The amount of the electrical current is always kept at a safe level. You will feel a tingling sensation and your muscles will twitch as the current flows from that point to the recording electrodes. It will be recorded on the EMG machine. The test won’t harm you but it may be painful. This current will rarely interfere with pacemakers or other electrical devices. This is necessary to evaluate how well your nerves are functioning in conducting the electrical current. This may be repeated several times per area to evaluate each nerve in that area or extremity. Each area that needs evaluated will be tested in the same way. You will not feel anything between the shocks. The physician may pause at times to make calculations and take measurements. This part of the test generally takes more time. It will be approximately 15 to 30 minutes per extremity tested.

The EMG assesses muscle function to evaluate if there is a problem in the muscle itself rather than the nerve. This can also be called the needle test. The physician uses very thin, fine needles about one and a quarter inches long that are attached to the EMG machine. The skin is cleansed with an alcohol wipe and then the needle is inserted into the relaxed muscle to be evaluated. You may feel a pinch or a sting as it’s inserted through the skin. When the needle is inside the muscle you may feel a pressure or discomfort. This is necessary to assess the ability of muscles to respond to nervous stimulation. No electric currents are used. It will record the muscle activity and can be heard as static on the EMG machine. You will be asked to tighten your muscles to also evaluate them at work. This may be repeated several times, usually using about 5 or 6 muscles per extremity. This may also be performed on more than one extremity depending on the problem you are having. Each muscle takes about 2 to 5 minutes; and the time for one extremity is approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

The entire test will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

After your Procedure

Once the testing is complete all the electrodes are removed. You will be assisted off the table or up from the chair if necessary. You may get dressed and leave. If you were instructed to hold any medications ask your physician when you may resume taking them.

The staff is not permitted to discuss the results with you. The Neurologist/Physiatrist will interpret the results and send a report to the physician that ordered the test. They will be reviewed with you at your next physician’s office visit. If your test was ordered STAT by your physician, the technician will alert the doctor and clerical staff to see that your doctor receives your results as soon as possible.

There are no activity restrictions. At times you may have some minor aches or discomfort. If so take it easy that day. There is a slight risk of bleeding or infection at the electrode sites. If you notice any bleeding; increase in discomfort; or signs of infection such as redness, warmth, swelling, pain, drainage or fever > 101 degrees F; please call your specialist or physician immediately.

Thank-you for allowing the Neurophysiatry Unit to care for you during your procedure.