Neurodiagnostics analyzes and monitors nervous system function to promote the effective treatment of neurological diseases and conditions. Technologists record electrical activity arising from the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves using a variety of techniques and instruments. Neurodiagnostic technologists prepare patients for procedures, obtain medical histories, record electrical potentials, calculate results, maintain equipment, and may work with specific treatments. They develop rapport with patients and comfort them during the recording procedure, which can last from 20 minutes [for a single nerve conduction study] to 8 hours for a sleep study, to multiple days admission for long term monitoring. Neurodiagnostic technologists understand neurophysiology and recognize normal and abnormal electrical activity. They act as eyes and ears for specially trained doctors who later review and interpret the data.
Neurodiagnostic Technology Careers
Evoked potential (EP) tests measure the electrical activity of the brain in response to stimulation of specific sensory nerve pathways. They are able to detect the slowing of electrical conduction caused by damage (demyelination) along these pathways even when the change is too subtle to be noticed by the person or to show up on neurologic examination. Because the diagnosis of MS requires evidence of demyelination in two distinct areas of the central nervous system, EP testing can help confirm the diagnosis by enabling the physician to identify a second demyelinating event that caused no clinical symptoms or was not otherwise apparent.
In order to measure evoked potentials, wires are placed on the scalp overlying the areas of the brain being stimulated. The examiner then provides specific types of sensory input (e.g., sound, light or sensation), and records the responses of the person’s brain. Evoked potential testing is harmless, generally painless, and is a very sensitive technique for detecting lesions (damaged areas).
Polysomnography (Sleep Medicine)
Intraoperative Neuromonitoring [IONM] is the use of neurophysiological monitoring techniques during surgery to provide information to the surgeon about nervous system integrity. The use of IONM guards against neurological complications during surgery and helps reduce the risk of negative surgical outcomes such as paralysis or stroke. IONM is used to monitor neurosurgical procedures and orthopedic procedures, including spinal surgery for scoliosis, tumors, and aneurysms; vascular surgeries; acoustic neuroma surgery; and carotid endarterectomy. Otolaryngologists use intraoperative neuromonitoring to monitor cranial nerve function during ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeries.