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Medical Terminology Explained
Medical Terminology Explained

What Kind of Test am I Getting and Why??

So, you just had a doctor’s appointment at our offices, and now the doctor is recommending more tests. And you are left with a million questions about all the big medical terms that were used and what they mean as far as seeking further medical treatment. We have put together a few of the terms that are most frequently asked about to help you get a better understanding of the tests that physicians might recommend for you.

EMG (Electromyography)

EMG Analyzes

An EMG records and analyzes the electrical activity in your muscles. It is used to learn more about the functioning of nerves in the arms and legs. When a normal muscle is at rest, it is electrically silent. The doctor will examine you to decide which tests to do. During an EMG, a small, thin needle similar to an acupuncture needle, is placed in the different muscles to record their electrical activity. When the needle is inserted, you may feel some mild discomfort.


The doctor will ask you to relax the muscle and to tense it slightly. The doctor will listen and watch a TV-like screen that broadcasts the electrical signals. You will also be able to hear the signal sounds as you move the muscle. When the needles are removed, you may experience some soreness and bruising, but this will disappear in a few days. There are no long-term side effects.


Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)

The NCS shows how well the body’s electrical signals are traveling to a nerve. This is done by applying small electrical current to the nerve and recording how the nerve works. These currents cause a quick and mild tingling feeling.

The doctor may perform this test in several areas to test different nerves at different levels. Although you may initially be startled by the suddenness of the stimulation, it is not painful, and most people are comfortable during the testing procedure. The sensation is similar to one received when you touch a doorknob after walking across carpeting.


Diagnostic Ultrasound

The use of an ultrasound machine is vital because it enables soft tissues that cannot be seen on x-ray, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints, to be visualized easily. It is also helpful for detecting foreign bodies or abnormal growths, such as tumors or calcifications. Ultrasound can also be used to measure the bone health and density of a patient.

Ultrasound Guided Cortisone Injections

UGC Injections

Ultrasound guided cortisone injections are a safe, non-invasive approach to treating pain, inflammation, and impaired mobility. The procedure is often recommended when other conservative treatments such as oral anti-inflammatory medications, joint manipulation, and physical therapy have been ineffective. Instead of relying on touch and experience to determine optimal injection placement, the physician uses the imaging probe to create a live video of the joint tissues. The clear, detailed images guide the insertion of the needle and the administration of the medicine.

Venous Doppler Test / Venous Doppler Ultrasound


During a Doppler ultrasound, a technician trained in ultrasound imaging (sonographer) presses a small hand-held device (transducer), about the size of a bar of soap, against your skin over the area of your body being examined, moving from one area to another, as necessary.

This is performed to estimate the blood flow through your blood vessels by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off circulating red blood cells. A regular ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images, but can’t show blood flow.

A Doppler ultrasound may help diagnose many conditions, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Poorly functioning valves in your leg veins, which can cause blood or other fluids to pool in your legs (venous insufficiency)
  • Heart valve defects and congenital heart disease
  • A blocked artery (arterial occlusion)
  • Decreased blood circulation into your legs (peripheral artery disease)
  • Bulging arteries (aneurysms)
  • Narrowing of an artery, such as in your neck (carotid artery stenosis)

If you have been referred to an imaging center for further testing, hopefully this will help you better understand what the procedure will be like, and why your doctor has recommended that you obtain further tests!

Author: Jenny Kurtz