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What is an NCV, and How is it Done?

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Updated June 10, 2009

What is an NCV, and How is it Done? Photo © A.D.A.M.

What NCV Testing Is:

A nerve conduction velocity test, or NCV, measures the rate of nerve conduction. During an NCV test, electrodes are placed on the skin and impulses are sent between them. Often performed in conjunction with electromyography, or EMG, an NCV test can detect nerve damage or dysfunction based on the information it gathers from the nerve impulses. It does this by measuring the time it takes for the impulse to leave one electrode and reach the other.

Why You Might Have an NCV Test:

If your doctor suspects your chronic pain condition is caused by nerve or muscle damage or abnormalities, he may order an NCV test to rule out certain conditions. An NCV test can help diagnose neurological chronic pain disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome or diabetic neuropathy.

What an NCV Test Feels Like:

During your NCV test, the electrical impulses may feel like little electric shocks. You will likely experience some discomfort during the test. The good news is that the unpleasant sensations only last as long as the impulses themselves. In other words, once the test is over, you should not feel any lasting discomfort.

How to Prepare For NCV Testing:

Because the NCV test uses electrodes on the skin, you don’t need to do much to prepare for it other than arriving at your appointment on time. You should wait to apply any lotions or creams to the area being tested until after the procedure. Also, if you have a pacemaker or cardiac defibrillator, make sure to tell your practitioner. This way, he can take the necessary precautions before the NCV test begins.

Source:

Medline Plus. Medical Encyclopedia: Nerve Conduction Velocity. Accessed 6/9/09. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/MEDLINEPLUS/ency/article/003927.htm

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