Your brain cells communicate with one another using tiny electrical signals, or impulses. During an EEG, your physician at The Neurology Group attaches small, metal discs called electrodes to your scalp where they monitor the electrical activity of your brain. Because your brain cells are always sending and receiving signals, even during sleep, there’s always activity to measure.
Neurologists know how to read the electrical impulse patterns of the brain, and they can differentiate between normal patterns and patterns that suggest specific disorders.
An EEG is one of the main diagnostic tools for epilepsy and other seizure disorders. It can also be useful for diagnosing or helping to treat the following problems:
An EEG is a noninvasive test that causes little to no discomfort. You lie comfortably on your back or sit on a chair as the electrodes are placed all over your scalp with a sticky paste. The electrodes have wires that extend to a recording machine, which receives the signals and translates them into patterns on a screen or on a paper printout.
During the test, you’re asked to relax and stay still with your eyes closed, because movement changes the readout and alters your results. Your doctor at The Neurology Group may ask you to perform certain tasks during the test, such as looking at a bright light or changing your breathing pattern for a few moments. In some cases, you may be asked to sleep during the test.
When neurologists determine that a patient’s brain activity needs to be monitored for longer than 30-60 minutes, they perform an ambulatory EEG. This test requires you to wear electrodes and carry a special recorder as you go about your normal routine for up to three days. You keep the electrodes in your head, and can take the machine with you to your house.
You should wash your hair the night before your test, taking care to avoid using any conditioner, gels, sprays, or oils. You should also avoid consuming anything with caffeine for at least eight hours before your test, as it can affect your results. You can continue taking medication.
When you schedule your EEG, make sure your doctor knows all the medicines you take. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications ahead of time, but you shouldn’t change your medicines or stop taking any of them unless your neurologist asks you to do so.