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An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a safe and pain-free test which records the electrical activity of the brain. This is recorded on a computer and interpreted by a neurologist
The EEG recording shows rhythmical electrical activity, often called brain waves. The brain waves may be normal or show abnormalities in certain regions. In people with epilepsy, there may be "epileptic activity" on the EEG indicating their predisposition to seizures. This epileptic activity can take several forms and be either generalised (recorded over all regions) or focal (recorded in one or more localised regions). Many types of childhood epilepsy have characteristic epileptic activity on the EEG that leads to a specific diagnosis and treatment. Focal abnormalities seen on an EEG occasionally warrant a child having a brain scan.
Minor irregularities of no significance are frequently seen in EEG recordings of normal children, especially infants and young children. Non-epileptic abnormalities and even epileptic activity may be recorded in children with neurological and behavioural problems (eg. cerebral palsy, autism, speech delay) and do not mean that the child has epilepsy. Furthermore, about 2% of normal school-age children who do not have seizures have epileptic activity on EEG.
Conversely, a normal EEG does not exclude epilepsy. Many types of epilepsy may be associated with a normal EEG between seizures. A normal EEG during a "seizure" usually excludes epilepsy as the cause.
The interpretation of EEG findings in children can be difficult and it is recommended that EEGs in children are recorded and interpreted by clinicians experienced in paediatric EEG.
The main roles of EEG in the evaluation of children with epilepsy are to:
EEG is occasionally used to:
An EEG can occasionally lead to confusion, especially if non-specific abnormalities or epileptic activity is seen in a child without seizures.
Neurodiagnostics is located on the Ground Floor, just off Main Street, at Specialist Clinics, Reception A3. The test usually takes an hour, but may take longer, especially if a sleep recording is needed.
The EEG scientist has been specially trained for this work and will be pleased to answer any questions about the procedure. However, the scientist cannot tell you the results of the test and administration staff are unable to provide results over telephone. You must make arrangements with your doctor to receive the results. In urgent situations, your doctor may obtain a preliminary report by telephoning one of our neurologists.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: No. Some children might find the procedure irritating, but it does not hurt.
Q: Do they cut my hair?
A: No. The metal disk electrodes are put on the scalp between the hair.
Q: Will they give me a needle?
A: No. You might be given a medicine to drink to make you sleepy but there are no needles.
Q: Will they give me an electric shock?
A: No. The metal discs record electricity coming from the brain but you do not feel this.
Q: Are there any after effects?
A: No. You will feel the same after the recording as you did before it.
Q: Can it read my mind?
A: No. Your thoughts are private and cannot be discovered by this test.
EEG appointments are made by the Specialist Clinics. The booking office is open from 8:15am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday and can be contacted by telephone on 9345 6180.