What to Expect During Your EMG Test

Where is the EMG test done, and by whom?

Adult EMG testing at the London Health Sciences Centre is done at University Hospital.  After registering with Patient Registration in the main lobby, take the Outpatient elevators next to the gift shop up to the 7th floor Outpatient clinic.   Check in with the receptionist at the Outpatient clinic desk, who will then notify the EMG Lab that you have arrived.  You will be asked to be seated in the waiting room and to fill out a brief questionnaire regarding your current symptoms. At the time of your appointment, one of the EMG staff will bring you into the lab for your test.

Our EMG staff includes:

  • EMG physicians, with specialized training and experience in the diagnosis of nerve and muscle disorders.
  • a lab coordinator
  • Registered EMG technologists

Most of the testing will be done by one of the EMG technologists. The physician may examine you as well, depending on what your physician has requested. The EMG physician will discuss the results of your test with you before you leave.

Note:  Paediatric EMG is done by Dr. Craig Campbell at Victoria Hospital.

How long will the test take?

The tests may take from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the nature of your problem. 

We do our best to see patients on time. Occasionally there are delays because of the complexity of the tests required. We will let you know of any expected delays. We appreciate your patience.

On the day of your appointment, please allow extra time for delays or additional tests that may be required.

What does the patient experience during this test? (See images below)

For nerve conduction tests, a small electrical pulse is applied to the skin using a hand-held stimulating electrode.   Each stimulation is very brief and is not harmful.  The stimulation may cause some muscles to twitch, or the skin in the area of the nerve to tingle.

Depending on the problem, in some cases we test muscle activity using a very thin disposable recording needle inserted very gently into the muscle. The muscle's electrical activity is then recorded at rest and during movement.

The majority of the more than 3,000 patients we test each year tolerate these tests very well.

Are there any risks?

There are a few minor risks to these tests.  It is important that we know if you are on blood thinning medications (anticoagulants). The electrical stimulation is of no significant risk for most patients. However, it is important that you tell us if you have an implanted cardiac pacemaker, any metal implants or fragments within your body, or epilepsy, as we may have to use different test procedures.  

If needle studies are required, sterilized disposable electrodes are used and are discarded immediately afterwards. You will never be tested with a needle that has been used on someone else.

What are the side effects?

The electrical nerve conduction tests have no lasting side effects. Some patients may experience a small amount of local irritation at the site of needle insertion. You will be able to drive and return to work following the tests. Our staff make every effort to ensure your comfort and safety.

A typical nerve conduction study of the hand.

Typical Nerve Conduction Study on the hand


A typical nerve conduction study of the forearm.


Nerve Conduction Study on the upper limb.


Nerve conduction study results on the EMG testing equipment.


Nerve conduction study results on the EMG testing equipment.