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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

NCS (Nerve Conduction Studies)

A Nerve Conduction Study measures how long it takes for a nerve impulse to travel along a nerve.  If a nerve is trapped, damaged or diseased then these signals can be slow.  The test may be performed by either a Healthcare Scientist or a Consultant Neurophysiologist.

Electrical pulses are applied to the skin via recording electrodes, usually placed on the upper and/or lower limbs. The electrical pulses feel like a sharp tapping sensation and some may cause a brief muscle twitch.  Some patients may find this feeling uncomfortable but most do not consider the test to be painful.

The test takes about 30-45 minutes.

Nerves conduct at optimum speed when warm so it is important that you are warm during the test.  On arrival for your appointment you will be given a heated pack to hold and time to warm up.  It is also useful if you wear warm clothing that gives easy access to the area to be examined.

Please ensure that your skin is clean and that no lotions or creams have been applied.  If possible you should remove rings and bracelets before attending, although you may wear wedding and engagement rings.

The examination has no lasting effects and you can resume normal activity straight away.

Pacemakers and implanted defibrillators

Please call the Clinical Neurophysiology department on 0300 019 2396 before your appointment if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator.  We will check the type of pacemaker with the cardiology team before your appointment. Patients with a defibrillating pacemaker require a cardiac physiologist to be present during the test, therefore these appointments take longer to arrange.

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