A nerve conduction study, also sometimes referred to as a nerve conduction velocity test, is a test that is designed to measure how fast electrical impulses move through a nerve. This type of test can identify areas with nerve damage or areas with deadened nerves.
During a nerve conduction study, the nerve suspected of being damaged is stimulated. The stimulation is typically performed with the help of small electrodes that attach directly to the skin, just above the nerve in question. The first electrode performs the stimulation, a minor electrical impulse, while the second electrode records it. Total electrical activity will also be measured. This test is done for every nerve that is suspected of being damaged. Since multiple nerves are tested during this type of test, the test will measure the time that it takes an electrical impulse to move from one electrode to the next.
An electromyography is a test that is similar to the nerve conduction study, and it is often done at the same time. The electromyography test focuses on the muscles rather than the nerves. If it is unknown whether there is a problem with the nerves, the muscles, or both, these tests are usually both ordered.
On the day of the nerve conduction study, the patient should avoid the use of lotion or oils on the skin, as it can interfere with the electrodes. Patients should not wear jewelry, eyeglasses, and any other type of metal to the nerve conduction study since metal can impede conduction during the study. While most people don't experience pain, it is possible that minor twinges can occur so patients should be prepared for that. The doctor may give the patient some other guidelines to help make the nerve conduction study as successful and easy as possible.
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