EMG

Electromyogram (EMG)

Overview

Electromyography (EMG) measures muscle response or electrical activity in response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle. The test is used to help detect neuromuscular abnormalities. During the test, one or more small needles (also called electrodes) are inserted through the skin into the muscle. The electrical activity picked up by the electrodes is then displayed on an oscilloscope (a monitor that displays electrical activity in the form of waves). An audio-amplifier is used so the activity can be heard.EMG measures the electrical activity of muscle during rest, slight contraction and forceful contraction. Muscle tissue does not normally produce electrical signals during rest. When an electrode is inserted, a brief period of activity can be seen on the oscilloscope, but after that, no signal should be present.

After an electrode has been inserted, you may be asked to contract the muscle, for example, by lifting or bending your leg. The action potential (size and shape of the wave) that this creates on the oscilloscope provides information about the ability of the muscle to respond when the nerves are stimulated. As the muscle is contracted more forcefully, more and more muscle fibers are activated, producing action potentials.

What EMG Does?

The doctor may order an EMG if the patient have signs or symptoms that may indicate a nerve or muscle disorder. Such symptoms may include:

EMG results are often necessary to help diagnose or rule out a number of conditions such as:

Procedure

Before the procedure:

During the procedure:

An EMG procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices. The EMG is performed by a neurologist (a doctor who specializes in brain and nerve disorders), although a technologist may also perform some portions of the test. The EMG is usually performed immediately following a nerve conduction study (a test that measures the flow of current through a nerve before it reaches the muscle rather than the response of muscle itself).

Generally, an EMG procedure follows this process:

After the procedure:

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