Common Neurological Tests at Children's Hospital Colorado
Doctors use various tests to diagnose possible neurological conditions in children. These tests are also often used on an ongoing basis in your child’s follow-up care. Our neurosciences team offers excellent care within a state-of-the-art facility to perform and interpret neurological functioning tests.
As a patient, your child will probably experience one or more neurological function tests. As a parent, it is important for you to know that our doctors, nurses and technicians are specially trained to explain these procedures to your child and help him feel as comfortable as possible during a test. It is also important that our equipment is designed to fit the various sizes of the children we treat which helps our testing to be as accurate and as comfortable as possible. Our neurological diagnostic testing methods include:
EMG is a test that assesses the health of the muscles and the nerves controlling the muscles. In an EMG, a needle electrode is inserted through the skin into the muscle. The electrical activity detected by the electrode is displayed on an oscilloscope and may be heard through a speaker. After placement of the electrodes, the patient may be asked to contract the muscle (for example, by bending the arm). The wave form produced on the oscilloscope provides information about the ability of the muscle to respond when the nerves are stimulated. EMG testing helps to differentiate primary muscle conditions from muscle weakness caused by neurological disorders.
Nerve Conduction Velocity Test
A nerve conduction velocity test is usually performed in conjunction with an EMG. This test evaluates the speed of conduction of impulses through a nerve. The nerve is stimulated, usually with electrodes that are placed on the skin. One electrode stimulates the nerve with a very mild electrical impulse. The resulting electrical activity is recorded by the other electrodes. The distance between electrodes and the time it takes for electrical impulses to travel between electrodes are used to calculate the nerve conduction velocity. This test is used to diagnose nerve damage or destruction. Abnormal results can indicate peripheral neuropathy, damage to the spinal cord and other conditions.
EEG is a test to detect abnormalities in the electrical activity of the brain. Brain cells communicate by producing tiny electrical impulses. In an EEG, electrodes are placed on the scalp over multiple areas of the brain to detect and record patterns of electrical activity and check for abnormalities. An EEG test is used to help diagnose the presence and type of seizure disorders, head injuries, tumors, infections, degenerative diseases, causes of confusion, and metabolic disturbances that affect the brain. Inpatient video-EEG monitoring is used to localize seizure onset in patients undergoing evaluation for epilepsy surgery. It is also used to confirm an epilepsy diagnosis.
Evoked Potential Tests
Evoked potential tests measure the transmission of electrical signals within the brain and spinal cord. It is used to diagnose multiple sclerosis (MS), since MS symptoms are similar to those of other conditions and can also vary considerably across patients.
A sleep study (also called a polysomnogram) is a test that records your physical state during various stages of sleep and wakefulness. It provides data that are essential in evaluating sleep and sleep-related complaints, such as identifying sleep stages, body position, blood oxygen levels, respiratory events, muscle tone, heart rate and general sleep behavior.
Radiology tests (also known as imaging tests) are studies that produce pictures of what's going on inside the body. These tests use different forms of energy (x-rays, sound waves, radioactive particles, or magnetic fields) that are passed through the body. The changes in energy patterns caused by different body tissues can be detected by special devices, which convert them into images. These images can show normal body structure and function as well as abnormalities caused by diseases.
Children's provides leading edge laboratory and pathology services for pediatric patients in the state of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. In addition to the routine and STAT procedures available 24 hours a day, the laboratory offers many specialized tests designed to address unique pediatric diseases. Procedures have been specially adapted or developed for the pediatric patient. Reference ranges are age appropriate, reflecting the influence of growth and development. We also offer consultation in test selection and result interpretation. All tests are conducted by qualified and certified staff, and are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of physicians so that we can provide the most comprehensive care for our patients.
Genetic tests can often resolve uncertainty about genetic risks and confirm a diagnosis. For most patients, testing involves taking only a blood sample. A few tests involve taking hair, skin or other tissue samples.