Epilepsy Diagnosis

Tests Used to Make a Diagnosis

Once the medical history and physical exam are completed, tests that may be ordered to help diagnose the condition include:
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring
  • Brain scans
  • Blood tests
  • Behavioral testing.
EEG Monitoring
An electroencephalogram (EEG) records brain waves detected by electrodes placed on the scalp. This is the most common test used to make an epilepsy diagnosis, as it can detect problems in the brain's electrical activity.
People with epilepsy frequently have changes in their normal pattern of brain waves, even when they are not experiencing a seizure. While this type of test can be very useful in diagnosing epilepsy, it is not foolproof. Some people continue to show normal brain wave patterns even after they have experienced a seizure. In other cases, the unusual brain waves are generated deep in the brain where the EEG is unable to detect them.
Many people who do not have epilepsy also show some unusual brain activity on an EEG. Whenever possible, an EEG should be performed within 24 hours of a patient's first seizure. Ideally, EEGs should be performed while the patient is sleeping as well as when he or she is awake, because brain activity during sleep is often quite different than at other times.
Video monitoring is often used in conjunction with EEG to determine the nature of a person's seizures. It also can be used in some cases to rule out other disorders such as cardiac arrhythmia or narcolepsy that may look like epilepsy.
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Information on Epilepsy

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