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Neurologists can order a number of different tests to diagnose problems with the brain, spinal cord or nervous system.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

An EEG detects electrical impulses in the brain to help diagnose or monitor a variety of conditions, including:

  • Epilepsy
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Stroke
  • Drug overdose
  • Sleep disorders
  • Herpes simplex
  • Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Brain death
  • Postsurgical conditions
  • Effectiveness of treatment

For this procedure, electrodes are attached to a patient’s head in order to monitor electrical activity. Different types of waves can provide insight into malfunctions of the brain. An EEG can vary for each individual patient. Sometimes, a flashing light is used for photic stimulation, or the patient may be asked to breathe quickly and deeply for a few minutes. Other times, this procedure is performed while a patient sleeps. Most tests take about an hour to an hour and a half to complete.

Electromyography (EMG)

EMG tests, used to see nerve function and diagnose certain muscle disorders, can be performed at the Sieg Neuroscience Center. EMGs monitor the electric transmissions of nerve cells to muscles. During the procedure, a needle electrode (about the size of a hypodermic needle) is inserted into a muscle to record electrical activity. Several tests are used to evaluate electrical response: resting, slight flex and full flex.

Tell your physician if you’re taking blood thinners, are highly susceptible to infections or bruising, have a pacemaker or have a history of hepatitis or AIDS virus infection. People with hemophilia, a tendency to bleed severely, or those who are unusually susceptible to infections may not be good candidates for an EMG.

MRI and CT scans

Our neurologists also utilize diagnostic procedures, such as MRIs and CT scans, available at Mount Nittany Health’s imaging locations.

Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test

An NCV test, which monitors the speed at which electrical impulses travel through the peripheral nervous system, is often used in conjunction with an EMG.

During an NCV test, an electrode is taped to the skin. A stimulator then issues a tiny shock, which feels like a tingle and may make the muscles twitch. The time between the stimulation and muscle reaction is recorded.