EMG testing: A useful tool
Neurologists of Cape Cod offers testing known as Electromyogram ( EMG) at their office on North Street in Hyannis. This test is able to assess nerve and muscle function to assist in the diagnosis of various nerve and muscle disorders, according to neurologist Michael Markowski, DO, FAAN, who works at the practice and is also the stroke coordinator at Cape Cod Hospital.
There are two parts to this test. The first is the nerve conduction study, where various nerves are stimulated and the resulting nerve function can be recorded. During the Needle EMG analysis, the second part of this test, a very small needle is inserted into the muscle to record the muscle electricity. This electrode detects electrical activity that is displayed on a monitor in the form of waves. Patients tolerate this test quite well and, while it can be mildly annoying, they understand this is the only way to diagnose many nerve and muscle disorders without performing a more invasive biopsy, he said.
“EMG testing is used to diagnose a variety of nerve and muscle conditions that range from a pinched nerve in the neck or back to peripheral neuropathy and a variety of muscle diseases,” Dr. Markowski said. “It’s a way to diagnose certain severe neuromuscular disorders, in particular ALS or Lou Gerig’s disease.”
EMG testing is commonly recommended by surgeons to localize the site of nerve damage and assess the severity, as these results can further guide treatment. EMG testing is the best way to localize damage to a particular nerve, for example a pinched median nerve at the wrist, which is commonly known as carpal tunnel syndrome, he said.
“It’s a very convenient test to be able to complete as a community neurologist because we can diagnose the problem and start them on any necessary treatment immediately afterwards,” he added. “Of the six neurologists working in our office, four of us have completed neurophysiology fellowships where we became experts in this procedure. Between the four specially trained neurologists, we are able to perform this testing in our office five days a week.
“We are very excited to be able to provide this service for the community.”