NERVE CONDUCTION STUDIES
Neurosciences Queensland is now offering bulk-billed nerve conduction studies,
with minimal wait times and reports available
within 1 business day.
Dr Michael Leitch
BMedSc (Hons I), PhD, ANSA, ACCP
BExSci, ANSA, Lecturer (Griffith University)
What is Clinical Neurophysiology?
Neurophysiology is a specialised branch of neuroscience that studies the function of the nervous system. In medicine, clinical neurophysiology is a sub-specialty of neurology that deals with the diagnosis of specific neurological diseases and disorders. Clinical neurophysiology often utilises electrophysiological techniques to examine the function of the neurones by electrically stimulating peripheral nerves to assess their speed (velocity) or by recording the electrical signals generated by the neurones as the nerve fibers interface with the muscle membrane. These specialised techniques are termed a nerve-conduction study (NCS) and electromyography (EMG) respectively.
What is a Nerve Conduction Study?
A nerve-conduction study (NCS) is a specialised neurophysiological test that allows for the examination of peripheral nerve function. It works, by stimulating the nerves with a small electrical current while recording the signals distally using small electrodes placed upon the skin. Peripheral nerves should transmit signals within a considered normal range and any values outside of the normal range may indicate peripheral nerve dysfunction. This specialised study can be performed in isolation but can also be accompanied by another specialised study known as an electromyogram (EMG), depending on the clinical presentation and NCS findings. Once your test is complete the results are reviewed and interpreted by a consultant neurologist who determines if there are any abnormalities. A report will then be written outlining the findings of the study and will be sent to your referring doctor.
Why might a Nerve-Conduction Study be needed?
A nerve-conduction study can be very useful in detecting local nerve pathologies or more generalised peripheral nerve dysfunction. For nerves to function effectively they require a healthy nerve fiber (axon) and a special coating surrounding the axon (myelin). You can think of nerves as being like electrical wires, the rubber surrounding the wire is the myelin, and the copper or conductor on the inside is the axon.
NCS is useful in diagnosing some of the following common clinical conditions as well as other more complex conditions:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Ulnar mononeuropathy at the elbow or wrist
Polyneuropathy (axonal, demyelinating & mixed types)
When will my referring doctor receive the report?We attempt to send your report and results within 24 hours of the test being performed. However, complex studies may require longer time to be analysed and reported.
How much does the test cost?In most cases, there are no out-of-pocket fees for the Nerve Conduction Study. Patients with a valid Medicare card and current referral are eligible for bulk-billing for the test and report. Some patients may require a complex Nerve Conduction and EMG Study, which is not bulk-billed. This study involves quantitative motor unit analysis of more than 3 spinal levels (unilaterally) and will incur an upfront cost. The fees associated with the complex study will be discussed with you before accepting an appointment booking.
How long does the test take?Allow approximately 60 minutes for your study.
Do I still take my medications?Yes, please continue to take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. For concerns regarding your medications please contact your prescribing doctor.
Do I need to bring anything to my appointment?You can bring any relevant diagnostic tests to your appointment e.g., imaging or blood tests, which you can discuss with your referring doctor; you also need to bring a valid Medicare card for bulk billing.
What do I need to wear?We recommend you wear loose and comfortable clothing to allow access to relevant parts of the body to be tested. If this is not possible we will provide you with a disposable gown to wear during your test. In addition, please avoid applying any moisturisers or creams on the day of the test as these can affect application of the skin (surface) electrodes.
Is the NCS test painful or invasive?The nerve-conduction study is a non-invasive test, however, we are passing small electrical currents through your skin into the nerve, this may cause some mild discomfort. The majority of patients would not describe this as painful, but rather, an unusual feeling.
Recovery time associated with the test?There is no recovery time with the NCS; once we have finished, and if you feel well, you’re free to continue your day as normal.
What are the fees for complex Nerve Conduction and EMG Studies?Some patients may require a complex Nerve Conduction and EMG Study, which is not bulk-billed. This study involves quantitative motor unit analysis of more than 3 spinal levels (unilaterally) and will incur an upfront cost. The fees associated with the complex study will be discussed with you before accepting an appointment booking.
Feel free to refer any patients to us using our NCS referral template provided: