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Patient information

Nerve Conduction Studies (NCSs)

The NCS tests how well signals travel along a nerve and can help find the cause of abnormal nerve function. Signals are made to travel along the nerve by applying small electrical pulses to the nerve at one site and recording the response at a different place along the nerve or muscle using metal discs or a wet pad placed on the skin. The small electric pulses cause a short, mild tingling feeling. The nerve's response is picked up by a recording instrument and measured by the neurologist or medical scientist performing the test. Several nerves may need to be tested depending on the problem.

Needle examination (EMG or Electromyogram)

During the needle portion of the examination, the neurologist inserts a small needle into a muscle to record the natural electrical activity of the muscle. The electrical activity of the muscle is fed into the recording instrument and the neurologist then analyses it by looking at a signal on the scope and listening to the sounds the activity makes through the speaker. This test can help determine if there are abnormalities in the muscle or the nerve going to it.

There may be mild discomfort when the needle is inserted into the muscle. The needles are sterile and are discarded immediately after use to prevent the transmission of infection.

Special precautions

You should inform the doctor or medical scientist prior to the examination if you are taking blood thinning medication (Warfarin or Aspirin) or bleed easily. If possible, wear loose-fitting clothing that permits access to the muscles and nerves to be tested.

You may be given a hospital gown to wear.

Avoid using skin lotions the day of the test.

The examination usually takes between 20 to 60 minutes. There are no restrictions on activity before or after the testing and there are no lasting after effects.

Results

When the examination is completed, the results will be analysed by a consultant neurologist and a report will be sent to the doctor who referred you for the tests. Your doctor will use the test results to help decide on proper management

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

On arrival at the hospital, you will be taken into the EEG room. You will sit in a chair while an EEG scientist fits you with rubber straps.

Small metal discs, called electrodes, will then have a special gel applied to them and be placed under the rubber straps which holds them in position.

You will be asked to lie on a comfortable bed and to relax. During the test you will first be asked to open and close your eyes several times. Then the EEG scientist will ask you to close your eyes. You may be ask to do some deep breathing for 3 minutes. You may also be shown a series of bright flashing lights which flash at different speeds.

The test takes approximately 45 minutes to perform. Please refer to the EEG patient information booklet if you require more information.

Download our patient information booklet for details on EEG including:

  • What is an EEG?
  • The EEG cannot...
  • Special requirements
  • The testing procedure
  • Children
  • Sleep deprived EEG
  • Sedation EEG
  • Costs

 

Doppler Ultrasound

Doppler ultrasound is a test using sound waves to study blood flow in the arteries in the neck, which supply the brain. This technique can be used to detect narrowing and cholesterol deposits in these vessels, which can increase the risk of stroke. The test uses a probe placed against the skin in the neck. It is not painful and there are no side effects. The test takes 40-60 minutes to complete.

Our laboratory also uses a similar technique to study blood vessels close to the surface of the brain using a probe placed on the temple. This procedure, which is entirely safe, is not generally available elsewhere.

Abnormalities can be detected using these tests with a high degree of accuracy, avoiding the use of invasive procedures such as angiography.

Evoked Potentials

Evoked potential studies involve recording the time it takes information to travel along nerves and the spinal cord to the brain. Repetitive stimuli are given to a nerve (as in NCS), or by looking at a screen or by listening through a set of headphones to clicks depending on whether the test is requested to check vision, hearing or feelings in the limbs. The result is recorded using metal discs placed on the scalp and neck.

Costs

Patients are bulk-billed for any test provided by the Neuroscience Laboratories, unless covered by insurance such as TAC, Workcover or private medical insurance. Please bring your Medicare card and any other insurance details.