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EEG (Electroencephalography)

Underlying Problem Requiring an EEG (Electroencephalography):
A test using electroencephalography is commonly referred to as an EEG. This procedure results in a printed recording of the electrical activity of the patient.s brain. This may be used to diagnose conditions such as epilepsy or to test the brain function of a comatose patient. Doctors may also use EEGs to determine if a patient is suffering from delirium or some psychiatric syndromes. Patients who have seizures may need to be admitted to the hospital for an extended period of time to be monitored when they happen to have seizure. This can be especially important for epileptic patients, as doctors can discover the type of seizure, as well as the area of the brain being affected.

An EEG may also be used to monitor brain activity in a patient who has experienced a severe head injury or who has undergone an organ transplant. At other times, it may aid in understanding the cause of sleep disorders or behavioral changes.


The EEG is a noninvasive procedure because the brain function is monitored externally. Patients will generally be outfitted with about 20 external sensors that are attached to the scalp. These sensors are able to gather information regarding the firing of synapses within the brain. The patient will probably be asked to wash his or her hair and to avoid adding products like gels or hairspray so that the electrodes will stick better. It might be recommended to avoid caffeine for about eight hours before the test, as well. He or she will often be asked to lie still while the test is being administered.

During the EEG, the electrical impulses will be translated into lines on a monitor and a piece of paper. In order to reproduce the problem, the patient will sometimes be asked to look at flashing lights, to breathe in a particular way, or to in some other way cause a reaction that can be measured. If the test is being done as part of a sleep study, the patient will be encouraged to go to sleep for the night.

Recovery from an EEG (Electroencephalography):

Because an EEG is non-invasive, there is typically not much recovery required. If the test was done as part of a sleep study, the patient will simply get dressed in the morning and go home. The doctor will contact him or her later with the results.

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