Clinical neurophysiology: nerve conduction studies and electromyography

Patients with suspected disorders/diseases of the peripheral nerves or muscles will often require electrical tests which assess their function. These are called nerve conduction studies and electromyography (EMG). 

The tests are performed by a consultant clinical neurophysiologist, of which there are four at the Wessex Neurological Centre. Patients are seen either as outpatients or inpatients depending upon the circumstances of their illness. The overall aim of the consultation and tests is to aid or confirm the diagnosis, or to guide management, of the patient’s neuromuscular disorder.

Nerve conduction studies and electromyography have a diagnostic role in most of the disorders seen by the service.  It is of limited value in some muscle disorders. Specific tests are performed to investigate or distinguish specific conditions and also sometimes to exclude specific conditions. Those in which clinical neurophysiology is important include:

  • Peripheral neuropathies, including demyelinating neuropathies
  • Motor neurone disease 
  • Muscle diseases
  • Myasthenia gravis, Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome and congenital myasthenic syndromes

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