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Voice & Swallowing Disorders

Laryngeal Electromyography (EMG) Test at Wake Forest Baptist in North Carolina

The larynx (voice box) has many pairs of small muscles that control its movements. There are four muscles that are easily accessible and are innervated by (connected to) four nerves that control the function of our larynges.  Many of the voice and swallowing conditions that we treat at Wake Forest Baptist have a subtle or profound injury to one or more of these nerves as their cause. In order to further understand the nature of the nerve injury (and therefore its prognosis), we often use an extremely fine needle to test the strength of one or several muscles in order to understand the health or disease of these four nerves, a laryngeal electromyography. 

Laryngeal electromyography is a test that is performed in conjunction with a neurologist. When performing this test, the patient usually lies flat with his or her neck extended. The skin overlying the Adam's apple is sterilized with an alcohol-soaked gauze, and a fine needle is inserted into these muscles.  The patient typically wears a grounding electrode similar to those you might have seen for a painless heart rhythm test, and these, in turn, are connected to a computer.  While performing a laryngeal electromyography examination, we may ask you to sniff or phonate with a long gentle "eeeee." This causes an activation of the muscles that we are interested in and helps assist in the diagnosis.

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Last Updated: 05-16-2016
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