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Electroencephalography (EEG) (cont.)

After the EEG Procedure

After the test is complete, the technician will remove the electrodes. The patient will be instructed when to resume any medications. The patient generally will be ready to go home immediately following the test. No recovery time is required. Because the patient may be at risk for a seizure (especially if their medication has been withheld prior to the EEG), they should have someone take them home, and they should not drive. The patient should avoid activities that may harm them if a seizure occurs, until they have resumed their seizure medication for an adequate length of time. These precautions do not necessarily apply to the person who was not on any seizure medication prior to the EEG.

The doctor or technician will tell the patient when and how they will learn the results of their EEG. Probably the patient will either get a telephone call or have an office visit. If the patient has not learned the test results within 2 to 3 weeks and doesn't yet have a follow up appointment, call the doctor.

When to Seek an EEG

If a patient's typical seizure pattern changes, he or she should notify the doctor. If the patient experiences any changes in mental status, or any new weakness, numbness, or tingling, he or she should tell the doctor immediately.

If the patient experiences new onset seizures, an increase in the usual number of seizures, an altered mental status, or a new loss of function, he or she should go to the nearest emergency department for treatment.

EGG Results

When the EEG is finished, the results are interpreted by a neurologist (a doctor who specializes in the nervous system). The EEG records the brain waves from various locations in the brain. Each area produces a different brain wave strip for the neurologist to interpret.

  • When examining the recordings, the neurologist looks for certain patterns that represent problems in a particular area of the brain.
    • For example, certain types of seizures have specific brain wave patterns that the trained neurologist recognizes.
    • Likewise, a normal brain has a specific brain wave pattern that the trained neurologist recognizes.
    • The neurologist must look at all recorded tracings, decide what is normal and what is not, and determine what the abnormal tracings represent.
  • The neurologist forwards the EEG results to the doctor who ordered the test, and the patient is then notified as arranged.

Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine

REFERENCES:

Aminoff, Michael J. Electrodiagnosis in Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Harcourt Health Sciences Group, 1992.

Emerson, R. G. and T. A. Pedley. Neurology in Clinical Practice Vol. 1. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000.

Luders, H. and S. Noachtar. Atlas and Classification of Electroencephalography. WB Saunders, 1999.

Niedermeyer, E. and F. L. Da Silva. Electroencephalography: Basic Principles, Clinical Applications and Related Fields. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/5/2016
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