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Is It a Typical Headache or Something More Serious These Tests Can Help You Find Out

June 03, 2019

If you have frequent headaches, dizziness, seizures or pain or weakness in your hand, your doctor may arrange for you to have neurodiagnostic testing. These outpatient tests can help diagnose a variety of disorders of the brain and nervous system.

Neurodiagnostic testing can point to disorders such as multiple sclerosis, seizures or dysfunctions in the peripheral nerve like carpal tunnel or more widespread peripheral neuropathy. The testing enables your doctor to be sure that the appropriate treatment is used to stabilize or improve your condition.

What to Expect with Neurodiagnostic TestingA doctor discussing brain scan results with a patient

While the idea of neurological testing may be daunting, most of the tests are non-invasive and involve very little participation from you. The exception is the electromyography/nerve conduction test, which requires electrical stimulation of the nerves.

Typical neurodiagnostic tests include:

Visual evoked potentials, which are used to evaluate the electrical signals to your brain from your eyes. This test assesses vision loss from optic nerve damage — a possibility with multiple sclerosis. The test is painless and risk-free. You’ll be asked to sit in front of a screen and focus on a shifting pattern. One eye will be tested at a time, and the process takes no more than 45 minutes. Symptoms such as blurred vision and blind spots could lead to this test.

Electromyography (EMG) diagnoses dysfunction of the nerve or muscle as well as spinal cord disease by recording the electrical activity from the brain to the peripheral nerve (found in the arms and legs). In this test, thin electrodes are inserted into a muscle to determine electrical changes that occur when you are moving and when you are at rest. This test lasts about an hour, and you may experience some discomfort when the electrodes are inserted. An EMG can be used to detect sciatica, carpal tunnel, peripheral neuropathy and other diseases that affect the nerves and muscles.

A nerve conduction velocity test (NCV) is often done with an electromyography. The NCV test measures the nerve’s ability to send a signal and can help diagnose nerve damage or muscle disease. This test, which alone does not cause discomfort, involves two parts. After a technician tapes two sets of electrodes to your skin, one set of electrodes sends a small pulse of electricity to stimulate the nerve for a particular muscle. The second set of electrodes transmits the electrical signal to a machine that records the results. If you have had nerve conditions leading to numbness, tingling, muscle pain, loss of sensation or neurological diseases, your doctor may recommend this test.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a painless and non-invasive test that uses electrodes to measure your brain waves, and can treat neurological and psychological problems, such as epilepsy. Symptoms that indicate a need for an EEG include headaches, dizziness, seizures, degenerative brain disease, head trauma, unexplained loss of consciousness and convulsions.

These advanced outpatient tests can provide the answers you need for a variety of disorders. With skilled medical professionals and state-of-the-art equipment, neurodiagnostic testing can help you get the diagnosis and treatment necessary to put you on the road to better health.

Choose Expert Neurological Care

Neurodiagnostic outpatient services provide advanced testing for a variety of disorders associated with the brain and nervous system. Led by an expert team of technicians, the neurodiagnostic services play a critical role in managing neurological conditions.

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