Article Text

Companion Animal Practice
Making sense of electrophysiological testing of the nervous system
  1. Mike Targett

    Mike Targett graduated from Cambridge in 1991. He remained at Cambridge to complete a PhD in neuropathology and then took up a post as a university assistant in neurology. In 1998, he moved to the Royal Veterinary College as a lecturer in neurology. He currently works in a private small animal neurology practice in Cheshire. He is an RCVS specialist in veterinary neurology.


ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL testing involves the use of electrical recording to investigate physiological function or dysfunction within the body. While the use of electrocardiography to assess cardiac function is commonplace, there is a range of techniques that can be used to evaluate the nervous system that is less well known. These electrophysiological tests are not widely available in general veterinary practice; indeed, their performance and interpretation is often considered as one of the 'black magic' arts of veterinary neurology, itself a topic much feared by many within the profession. However, if used correctly, electrophysiology can prove invaluable in the investigation of the nervous system to help localise lesions and establish a diagnosis. This article describes the four most common electrophysiological tests of the nervous system - electromyography, nerve conduction studies, brainstem auditory evoked response testing and electroretinography. It discusses how these techniques may be used to answer specific questions relating to the function of the nervous system and outlines the indications and limitations of each.

Statistics from

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.