What is an EEG?

EEG, not to be confused with EMG (see previous blog post), is a test used to monitor and analyze function of the brain. Short for Electroencephalography, the test works by tracking electrical activity in the brain through a series of small electrodes that are placed on the scalp. While an EMG looks at general nerve function, EEG looks specifically at the nervous function of the brain.

When should you get one?

EEGs are typically used as a supplementary method of gathering information on a condition. They can be ordered by your general provider or used as a second step after imaging methods such as MRI, CT, or PET scans have detected abnormality. By providing in-depth data on an individual’s current brain function, EEGs can aid in diagnosis, monitoring, and the making of decisions on treatment methods for a condition. EEG is most commonly used for issues such as seizures, concussions, memory loss, Vertigo, and even headaches.

What to expect:

EEGs are a non-invasive procedure and do not require any sedation. When you schedule an appointment, you will be asked to wash your hair the night before and not use any creams or conditioners so the electrodes will be better able to stay in place. During the test, you will sit and be monitored by the physician, who in some cases may ask questions or flash a light to stimulate activity. Most tests last around an hour, however some versions (ambulatory EEG) can go up to 72 hours. In this case, your activity would be tracked outside of the office with a portable device.

Once the test has been run, the physician “prunes” the data for abnormalities, analyzes the results, and provides conclusions or suggestions of next steps.