An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures the electrical activity in the brain (brain waves). Small, round discs with wires (electrodes) are placed on the scalp during the test. The electrodes are not painful to your child. An EEG usually takes about 60 to 90 minutes.
Your child may need this test to check for signs of:
Your child’s healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend an EEG.
Most medical procedures have some risks. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of this test for your child.
The EEG has been used for many years and is considered a safe procedure. The test causes no discomfort. The electrodes record activity. They don’t stimulate nerves. In addition, there is no risk of getting an electric shock.
In rare cases, an EEG can cause seizures in a person with a seizure disorder. This is because of the flashing lights or the deep breathing that may be involved during the test. If your child does get a seizure, the healthcare provider will treat it right away.
To prepare your child for an EEG:
To get the most information from this test, your child's healthcare provider will try to record the EEG while your child is awake and asleep.
An EEG is done by a trained technologist. During the test, the electrical activity of your child’s brain is recorded on a computer or printed on paper. The technologist may also use a video camera to record your child’s physical activity. You can stay with your child in the testing room. Your child can bring a favorite toy, such as a stuffed animal, for comfort.
During the test:
In rare cases, an EEG can cause seizures in a child with a seizure disorder. This is from the flashing lights or the deep breathing that may be involved during the test. If you notice signs that your child may be having a seizure, tell the technologist right away.
The test takes about 90 minutes. Your child's healthcare provider may also order a video EEG to give more time to study the brain waves. The procedure is the same, but may last 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
Once the test is done, the technologist removes the electrodes and washes off the glue with warm water and a washcloth. If some glue does not come off, you may need to wash your child's hair at home. Your child can return to his or her normal routine.
A neurologist will read the EEG and talk to your child's healthcare provider about the results. Schedule a follow-up appointment with your child’s healthcare provider to review the results of the test.
Let your child’s healthcare provider know if symptoms or seizures get worse after the test.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure for your child make sure you know: