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Electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction study (NCS)

Your child is scheduled for EMG/NCS tests at Children's Hospitals and Clinics.

Date: _____________________________

Time: _____________________________

Check-in time: _____________________________

Children's - Minneapolis
Short Stay Unit
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404

Please bring a list of your child's medicines and your insurance card with you. If you have questions about your insurance coverage for these services, or any special referral requirements, please contact your insurance company directly. They will advise you about your plan's coverage.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany children younger than 18 years old.

What are these tests?

The electromyogram (e-lek-tro-my-oh-gram, or EMG) and nerve conduction study (NCS) are two different tests that are done together. They evaluate the causes of muscle problems such as numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, fatigue, and cramping.

  • The EMG tests the electrical activity of the muscles.
  • The NCS tests how well signals travel along the nerves.

Can I be with my child during the tests?

You are welcome to stay with your child for the whole time. The tests will last two to three hours.

What should we do before the tests?

Read and discuss the information in this education sheet with your child. Explain how the tests are done, especially what your child will see, hear, and feel. Answer as many questions as you can.

Children and young adults of all ages may want to bring a comfort item, such as their own blanket and pillow. Younger children may also find it helpful to bring a favorite toy or pacifier. Older children and teens may want to bring an iPod® or favorite DVD.

To learn more about preparing and helping your child cope with this test, call the child life department at 612-813-6259. Child life specialists are trained to help children understand and cope with medical procedures and can offer advice on how to talk with and support your children.

How are the tests done?

The procedure can be uncomfortable as the EMG involves needles. For most children and young adults, the doctor will apply an anesthetic cream to the skin 30 minutes before the test to numb the skin and ease the procedure. (See the education sheet, "Anesthetic cream.")

Many younger children and some young adults may be lightly sedated to help them relax during the procedure. This choice depends on the doctor's recommendations, your preference, and school and activity schedules before and after the tests. See the education sheet sent to you 1 to 2 weeks before the tests.

To do the EMG, the doctor inserts a very thin needle into a muscle to record its electrical activity. The doctor analyzes the muscle response by looking at the signal on a monitor and listening to the sounds from the speaker.

For the NCS, the doctor places a small hand-held instrument on the surface of the skin. Small electric pulses are applied to the nerve, causing a quick muscle jerking and a tingling feeling. The response is recorded at a different place along the nerve, showing how the pulse has traveled. Several nerves may need to be tested depending on the type of problem.

What can I expect after the test?

After the procedure, the doctor will evaluate the results and send them to the ordering provider.

If sedation was used, your child will be monitored by a nurse until awake.

What else do we need to know?

Siblings are not allowed in the room during the test. Please have an adult stay with them in the waiting room, or the Sibling Play Area (for children age 2 and older) may be open during your appointment. Call ahead to check on hours:

Children's - Minneapolis: 612-813-7501

Plan to allow extra time before the appointment, to check your children into the Sibling Play Area.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. For questions about why your child is being tested, please ask your child's doctor. If you have questions about how to prepare your child or for more information about the tests, please call the Short Stay Unit at 612-813-6734.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Patient/Family Education
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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