Types of investigations

Clinical neurophysiology departments provide a range of investigations including: electroencephalography (EEG), nerve conduction studies (NCS) with electromyography (EMG), and evoked potentials (EP). These investigations constitute the largest part of a clinical neurophysiologist’s workload.

EEG is most often used to diagnose children and adults with epilepsy (the most common serious neurological condition), while NCS and EMG are required for the management of peripheral nerve disorders, such as entrapment neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar neuropathy etc), generalised peripheral neuropathies (eg inherited or diabetic neuropathy) and other diseases of nerve and muscle, such as motor neurone disease and myasthenia gravis. EPs are complementary tests used in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, the assessment of coma in critically ill people and in monitoring surgery of the brain and spine to ameliorate unintended damage and consequent disability.

Some departments offer highly specialised investigations, including:

  • EEG monitoring on intensive therapy units (ITU)
  • intracranial EEG and recording during neurosurgery for epilepsy, brain tumours and Parkinson’s disease
  • polysomnography to investigate sleep disorders
  • electroretinography (ERG) for the diagnosis of retinal disease. 

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