What is an ambulatory EEG?
An ambulatory electroencephalography (EEG) is a diagnostic test that measures electrical activity in the brain using small, flat metal discs known as electrodes that are attached to a portable recording device. This test allows prolonged EEG recording in the home setting.
What is an ambulatory EEG used for?
An ambulatory EEG may be used to:
- Assess a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness (syncope)
- Confirm an epilepsy diagnosis
- Confirm seizure episodes that the patient may not be aware of
- Evaluate the effectiveness of an epilepsy treatment (or treatment for other seizure disorders)
Why perform an ambulatory EEG instead of a routine EEG?
The electrical activity within the brain fluctuates constantly from second to second, but a routine EEG is only capable of recording a 20- to 40-minute sample. If the abnormal activity occurs in the brain once every several hours or only at certain times of the day (or night), the routine EEG might not record it. Ambulatory EEG allows patients to record for a consistent period of time in the comfort of their own home.
How does an ambulatory EEG work?
Patients are hooked up to a series of electrodes that are attached to a portable device, and are asked to go about their normal activities (including sleep) for a period of up to 72 hours. During that time, patients and family/friends are asked to keep track of any symptoms or abnormal behaviors, which are later compared to the EEG results after the device is detached and returned. The entire process is completely painless.
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