Epilepsy Monitoring and Treatment

epilepsy More than 3 million people in the United States have some form of epilepsy, and approximately 200,000 new cases of seizure disorders and epilepsy are diagnosed each year. 

St. Vincent's HealthCare offers study and care for people who have seizures, even if the seizures are so severe that they cannot work, drive, or enjoy daily activities. Patients are admitted to a specialized unit with video electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring to help physicians characterize the type and location of seizures, and assist with diagnoses.

The Seizure Evaluation and Treatment Team is a multidisciplinary team made up of Neuro-epileptologists and Neurosurgeons from St. Vincent's Spine and Brain Institute, as well as neuropsychologists and Interventional Radiologists. This specialized team evaluates and cares for patients during their stay, which is typically three to four days.

This Seizure Evaluation and Treatment Team unit is located at St. Vincent's Southside. Any physician with privileges at St. Vincent's Southside can admit patients to the unit.

More On the Procedure

The video EEG involves the placement of electrodes on the patient's scalp over multiple areas of the brain to record electrical activity and check for abnormalities. Traditionally, routine EEGs only record patients for a 20-to-60 minute period.

Patients are instructed to do things that will trigger a seizure while physicians try to record episodes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is video EEG recording performed in the hospital?
A. The primary reason is patient safety. Seizures pose a risk for injury. Performing the recording in a controlled environment helps to minimize the risks. Recording the video and EEG data in the hospital also allows for the best quality of data to be obtained.

Q. What can I do to prepare for this testing?
A. Before admission to the hospital your physician will discuss the general plan with you. It is helpful, however, to bring items to help pass the time during your stay. Bring comfortable clothes to wear, such as jogging paints, shorts, pajama bottoms, and shirts and blouses that zipper or button in the front. You will not be allowed to wear pullover shirts because EEG electrodes will be placed on your scalp and you will not be able to remove or put on pullover clothing. If you prefer, you may wear a hospital gown during the recording.

For children younger than 18, a parent, guardian, or other adult family member must be present while the child undergoes video EEG recording. Adult family members may wish to take turns staying with the child. If only one family member or guardian is able to stay with the child the entire time, the hospital staff will arrange for 30-minute meal breaks for that person.

Q. What can I expect when I get there?
A. The nursing staff and EEG technicians will discuss each part of the procedure with you. The nursing staff may place an intravenous catheter in your arm so that medication can be administered quickly, should it be needed. The EEG technician will attach recording electrodes to your scalp. A device may be placed on your finger to measure oxygen levels in the blood, and heart monitor patches may be applied to your chest to record heart rhythm.

Q. What happens after the recording is completed?

A. When video EEG recording is completed, the EEG leads are removed with acetone (solution similar to nail polish remover). After the EEG electrodes are removed, you may be permitted to wash your hair. Your physician may order additional tests once the monitoring is complete. Your physician may discuss the preliminary results and treatment plans with you while in the hospital, but may also arrange a follow-up appointment for final discussion of the results and recommendations.