The initial evaluation includes a review of your medical history, medical records, and medications, a neurological exam, imaging tests, and electroencephalography (EEG).
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
Uses magnets to create a high-quality image of the brain and detect abnormalities that may indicate a potential seizures focus. This painless test takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Routine EEG (electroencephalography)
Records brain waves using electrodes placed on the scalp. While lying still on a bed, you may be asked to perform some simple tasks or look at a flashing light. In most cases, brain waves are recorded when you are both awake and asleep. You shouldn't experience any pain or discomfort during this one-to-two-hour test.
Records brain waves for a longer period of time, which increases the chances of recording an irregularity. As with a routine EEG, electrodes are placed on the scalp, but you will go home with the electrodes and a miniature, portable recorder for one to four days. Brain activity is recorded continuously. You will be asked to push a button when any seizures occur and to maintain a detailed log of your activities to help doctors learn more about your seizures.
Video EEG and the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit
Records brain waves and video during actual seizures, which can help doctors with diagnosis and surgical evaluation. Before and during the test, anti-seizure medications are often reduced or stopped to increase the chances of recording a seizure. For three to five days you will be admitted to the hospital and closely monitored in our specialized epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) by a large team that includes doctors, nurses, technologists, and other staff. Video EEG can also be performed using electrodes that have been surgically placed on or in the brain. This allows for more precise mapping of brain function and targeting seizure origins.
Recent research has shown that epilepsy can have a genetic component. A blood test can help inform doctors whether your epilepsy is genetic, which can affect your treatment plan.