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Electromyography (EMG) Testing

Children’s Mercy Kansas City's EMG laboratory is the first accredited electromyography lab by the American Academy of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) specifically for pediatric patients in the country. The AANEM developed the Electrodiagnostic Laboratory Accreditation Program in 2010 as a voluntary, peer-review process that identifies and acknowledges electrodiagnostic laboratories that achieve and maintain the highest level of quality, performance, and integrity based on professional standards.

What is an EMG?

An EMG test is used to record the electrical activity of muscles and nerves to aid in diagnosing congenital, traumatic, or acquired injuries that affect muscle movement or sensation. This test is performed by a doctor who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. To ensure the accuracy of your exam, both physicians who perform this testing at Children’s Mercy maintain board certification through the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as the American Board for Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

This test is used to help diagnose a variety of conditions, such as peripheral neuropathy (diseases of the nerves), entrapment neuropathies (like carpal tunnel syndrome), traumatic injuries (nerve lacerations, or myopathies (Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Unlike an MRI, CT scan, or x-ray, this test is able to actually see the physiology (i.e. how the nerves and muscles actually work) compared to other tests which may only be able to visualize the anatomy.

What to expect at your visit?

Your child will be evaluated by a specialist in neuromuscular conditions. First, the doctor will have reviewed your case and the medical records indicating the reason for testing. This doctor may have more questions to help clarify which testing needs to performed. After obtaining the history, the doctor will perform a specialized physical exam which will help guide which nerves or muscles will be tested. The EMG may consist of two parts: a nerve conduction study and an EMG. 

What is a nerve conduction study and an EMG?

Nerve conduction study: Recording electrodes (like stickers) are placed on specific locations. A small stimulus like static electricity will cause the nerve to send a signal to the recording electrodes that will allow the doctor to evaluate the health of the nerve. 

EMG: The EMG portion requires the doctor to clean your child’s skin with alcohol to prevent infection and place a small pin (similar to an acupuncture needle) into the muscle. Before placing the pin into the muscle, a spray to help with pain can be given. This is not a ‘shot’ and many people feel is tolerated much better than receiving shots. This part of the test may be very important, as we can observe and hear the way the nerve is connected to the muscle. 

Your results are obtained in ‘real time’ and the reports are generated and generally sent to your ordering physician within the same day.


American Academy of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine