An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a painless procedure that uses small, flat metal discs (electrodes) attached to the scalp to pick up electrical activity of nerve cells in the brain. The readings are translated into a series of wavy lines that show up on a monitor and can be printed out on paper. Changes of electrical activity that may signal a seizure produce abnormal patterns that a trained neurologist can interpret. These patterns can tell your doctor a lot about your seizures, including the part of the brain where your seizures start, and may even suggest which treatment might be best for you.
Having an EEG is a painless, safe procedure, and remains one of the main diagnostic tests for epilepsy. It can also play a role in diagnosing other brain disorders.
Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)
If your doctor suspects epilepsy, a simple EEG may not provide the answers necessary to diagnosing and treating a seizure disorder. Only a prolonged EEG combined with visual monitoring over a period of days will pinpoint the causes and potential treatments for your condition. The Valley Hospital offers two separate inpatient epilepsy monitoring units, one for adults and one designed specifically for children. Both provide expert assessment in comfortable environments, and both are overseen by board-certified epileptologists who are trained in the most effective treatment options. Please follow the links for more detailed information about our EMUs.
In addition to brain wave tests, your neurologist may order a CAT scan or MRI to get a more detailed look at the structures of your brain with regards to any potential abnormalities. Other imaging modalities performed at Valley in selected individuals include SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) scans and PET (positron emission tomography) scans. CAT scans, MRIs, SPECT scans and PET scans use non-invasive, cutting-edge technology to take detailed anatomic and functional images of the brain. Your neurologist may also take blood tests to rule out other disorders that may be causing your seizures.
Once you've been diagnosed with epilepsy, your doctor may suggest several treatment options. These may include medication, vagus nerve stimulation, surgical intervention, and/or a ketogenic diet. For more detailed information about these epilepsy treatments, click here.