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What is an EMG?

An EMG is an electrical test of the peripheral nervous system, which includes muscles, nerves, and their connections. A doctor does the test, often with the help of a technologist.

The test is often done in two parts:

  1. Electrical stimulation of nerves
  2. Measurement of muscle electrical activity

Where will I have this test?

Gillette Children's - Adult Clinic

435 Phalen Blvd.

St. Paul, MN 55130

Please arrive 10 minutes early to ensure adequate time to check in.


How should I prepare for the test?

Eating, drinking and taking medicines: You may eat, drink and take medicines as usual.

Footwear: Wear shoes and socks to keep your feet warm, which is important for testing. Do NOT wear sandals, even if it’s hot outside.

Skin lotions: Do NOT put on skin lotions.


What should I tell Gillette before the test?

Please tell us if:

  • You are taking:
    • Coumadin 
    • Medication for myasthenia gravis
  • You have a:
    • Pacemaker
    • Chronic infection, such as hepatitis B or HIV

To tell us about any of the above items, call 651-636-9443. Ask to speak with your doctor’s nurse.


What can I bring to Gillette when I come for the test?

Entertainment/relaxation: You may bring CDs, DVDs and/or personal electronic devices to use during the test. We have a CD player, a DVD player, and a limited selection of music and movies available for you to use.

Food and drinks: You may eat and drink during the test.


How can Gillette help me feel more comfortable during the test?

During the test, we can dim the room lighting and/or offer aromatherapy to help you relax.


What will happen during the test?

  1. To test your nerves, the doctor or technologist will place electrodes on your skin. These electrodes will give small electrical shocks or stimulations to the nerve. The stimulation causes a brief tingling sensation. The doctor will measure the speed and size of your nerve or muscle responses.
  2. To test the response of the muscles, your doctor will put a fine needle electrode in your muscles. No shocks are given, since the needle picks up the electricity normally present in the muscle. This electrical activity is shown on a screen and broadcast on a speaker so your doctor can see and hear it.

How long will the test last?

60 to 90 minutes.


What happens after the test?

Specially trained staff interpret EMG test results. We’ll send your report to your referring or primary doctor. Your doctor will talk to you about the results of the test. Information in the report will be used to help your doctor coordinate your care.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team. If you are a Gillette patient with urgent questions or concerns, please contact Telehealth Nursing at 651-229-3890.