Diagnostic Tests and Therapies

Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Studies (EMG/NCS)

What is it for?

This 30min-2hour test done by a physician evaluates the function of nerves and muscles. It is used to locate a problem or to categorize the type of problem.

What is the test like?

There are two parts, the EMG and the NCS. The NCS involves stimulating a nerve in the arm or leg with a small current of electricity that lasts microseconds. Depending on the problem, the physician will determine how many nerves he/she must evaluate. The EMG does not involve any current, but instead the doctor uses a fine needle to "listen" to muscle.

How do I prepare?

If you take aspirin or coumadin, you should call us prior to the test to determine if these need to be stopped. If you have a pacemaker or a defibrillator, please tell the physician before starting the test. Otherwise, there is nothing else you need to do and you will be ready to return home immediately after the test (no sedation is used). The results of this test is typically available to the ordering physician within 2-3 working days.

Electroencephalography (EEG)

What is it for?

This is to record your brain's electrical activity and is typically used to evaluate for seizures or confusion.

What is the test like?

A trained technician will apply special sensors (electrodes) to your scalp with a washable glue. You will then lie quietly for 20 minutes during which the technician may ask you questions or to follow simple instructions. When the test is over, the electrodes are removed and you are free to go. A physician will then read your EEG and send the results to your odering physician typically within 2-3 days.

How do I prepare?

Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications prior to the test (such as sleeping aids, muscle relaxants, and seizure medications). Since the electrodes need to stick to your scalp, it is important that your hair is clean and free from oils or lotions. Your doctor may need you to be sleep-deprived before the test which typically means that you don't sleep the night before. If this is the case, you will need someone to drive you to and from the appointment.

Polysomnogram (PSG) (Sleep Study)

What is it for?

This is an evaluation of you during sleep. The test includes information about your brain activity, your breathing and your movements during sleep.

What is the test like?

You will spend a night in the sleep lab in a room very much like a hotel room. A trained technician will monitor your breathing, movements and brain activity during the night. A physician will read the study the following day and report the results to your doctor within a week.

How do I prepare?

Prepare for a night away from home just as you would if you were on a trip. Be sure to bring all necessary medications. Your doctor may ask you to stop some medications prior to the test, such as sleeping aides. You will be able to leave in the morning after the test is completed.

Medical Botulinum Toxin

What is it for?

Botulinum toxin is used to treat severe muscle contractions as in cervical dystonia, writer's cramp, blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm. The toxin weakens the target muscles.

What is the procedure like?

The medicine is injected into the affected muscles. It usually takes about 1-2 weeks to take effect and then lasts for 2-3 months.

How do I prepare?

If you take aspirin, do not take the day of the procedure. If you take coumadin, please tell your doctor before the procedure.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

What is it for?

DBS is now used routinely to treat Parkinson's Disease, Essential Tremor and some focal dystonias.

What is the procedure like?

DBS is brain surgery and requires counseling and education with your Neurologist and Neurosurgeon.

How do I prepare?

Please speak to your doctor if you would like more information and to determine if this is an appropriate procedure for you.

Transcranial Doppler (TCD)

What is it for?

Doppler uses soundwaves to evaluate the flow in your blood vessels. It is used to look for blockages, irregular or abnormal vessels and heart abnormalities.

What is the test like?

A trained technician or physician will roll a transducer over your chest, neck and head as he/she watches a monitor. It is not painful and may take anywhere from just a few minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the studies ordered.

How do I prepare?

Just come as you are; there is nothing to prepare in advance.