What is an Nerve Conduction Study(NCS) and what is it used for?

Nerve conduction studies are used to record the size and speed of nerve responses within your peripheral (mostly within your arms and legs) nerves. Analysis of these responses, provides an accurate assessment of the integrity and function of your nerves assisting in your diagnosis.

How long does a NCS take? 

NCS’s usually take 15-30 minutes to perform, although it can take longer depending on the number of nerves and limbs that require an assessment. This is determined by the referral question; the distribution of your symptoms and the results obtained.

When is an NCS needed? How do I get one? 

You will need a referral from a GP or specialist to get an NCS. They should refer you if:

  1. You experience numbness or a tingling sensation in parts or all of your hand (especially if it is worse at night or on use)
  2. You have burning, numb or tingling feet
  3. You suffer from a weakness within an arm or leg
  4. They are concerned that you may have a muscle disease (myopathy)

Once your referral has been received by our staff, we recommend contacting us within a few days to make an appointment.

Do I need to prepare for an NCS?

  1. Clothing should be loose and easy to roll up – Most tests require access above the knee and elbow. If this is not possible, you may be asked to change into a gown for the study.
  2. Do not wear any creams, moisturisers or skin care products, as these can affect the electrodes and reliability of your test.
  3. Normal medications can still be taken, but we ask that you inform our staff (before the appointment) if you are currently taking any blood thinning medications such as Warfarin.
  4. There is no need to fast. You can enjoy meals and drinks like normal.
  5. Permanent pacemakers, deep brain stimulators or other implantable electronic devices will not be affected by a NCS; however we ask that you please inform the Doctor or Scientist if you have any of these.
  6. Pregnant ladies can undergo NCS. However the benefit of this should be considered by your referring doctor. Please inform staff if you are pregnant.

What happens during an NCS?

NCS’s are designed to assess the integrity of your peripheral nerves, particularly in your arms and legs, by measuring the size and speed of their electrical signals.

A small hand held stimulator sends small electrical impulses along the nerve. Carefully placed recording electrodes, over your nerves/muscles,  record these impulses some distance away from the original stimulation. The impulses may feel slightly uncomfortable but they are not painful. They are quite similar to the sensation experienced from a brief static electricity shock.

On occasions electromyography (EMG) may be necessary to conclude the test.

Are there any complications from an NCS?

There are no complications from a NCS.

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