The Electrodiagnosis Clinic specializes in evaluation of the function of a child’s nerves and muscles. As the electrodiagnostic study is an extension of clinical findings, a Pediatric Physiatrist (PM&R physician) board certified in Electrodiagnostic Medicine will obtain a history and perform a focused physical examination before starting the testing. This is a test to evaluate how the nerves and muscles are working. There are two parts of the test: the Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) and the Electromyography (or EMG).
Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
The first part of the test, the nerve conduction study, involves activating the nerves and measuring the responses of the nerves and muscles. To do this, the nerve is stimulated; which feels like the sensation of bumping your “funny bone” or a rubber band flicking the skin. This is usually not painful but may be slightly uncomfortable at times. Most children tolerate this part of the test pretty well.
In second part of the test, the electromyography (EMG), there is no stimulation of the nerves. Instead a very small pin is placed in the muscle, which allows the doctor to directly measure the signal of the muscle. This feels like a small pinch. We use a cold spray so that your child is more comfortable. Because this test requires the child to activate (move) the muscle, an important part of the EMG test cannot be completed if the child is sedated.
Your child first
We often utilize the help of a Child Life specialist during the test to help your child relax. The Child Life specialist has various types of toys, books, and an iPad to help distract your child and keep his or her mind off the testing. In rare cases, a child is unable to cooperate sufficiently for testing. If that happens, we may choose to reschedule the test under sedation, although this is not ideal as we will not be able to perform a complete test and may lose some valuable information.
How to prepare for the tests
Please do not wear any lotion on the day of the studies and take a bath or shower to remove oil from your skin. Lotions and oils can interfere with the results of the studies.
Why do NCS and EMG?
These tests provide information that may be useful in diagnosing or excluding disorders such as:
• Peripheral neuropathy
• Brachial plexus injury
• Traumatic nerve injury
• Motor neuron disease
• Spinal muscular atrophy
• Muscular dystrophy
• Neuromuscular junction disorders
• Myasthenia gravis
• Lambert-Eaton syndrome
Other studies available
In some situations, additional studies including repetitive nerve stimulation and blink reflexes may be needed. These tests will be explained by your examining physician if indicated.