Nerve conduction studies are tests that measure how well individual
nerves can send an electrical signal from the spinal cord to the muscles. Nerve
conduction studies are often used to help diagnose nerve disorders, such as
carpal tunnel syndrome or Guillain-Barré syndrome.
During a nerve conduction test, a health professional places a
shock-emitting electrode directly over the nerve to be studied, and a recording
electrode over the muscles supplied by that nerve. The shock-emitting electrode
sends repeated, brief electrical pulses to the nerve, and the recording
electrode records the time it takes for the muscle to contract in response to
the electrical pulse.
Diagnostic uses for nerve conduction studies include:
Detecting and evaluating damage to the
peripheral nervous system, which includes all the nerves that lead away from
the brain and spinal cord and the smaller nerves that branch out from those
Identifying the cause of abnormal sensations, such as
numbness, tingling, or pain.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology