Diagnostic Testing for Epilepsy

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

For some patients, it may be necessary to directly observe seizures in order to provide an accurate diagnosis or to determine the region of the brain where seizures originate. Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit provides a safe, comfortable setting, equipped with the latest brain monitoring technology and staffed with highly trained physicians, nurses and technicians to evaluate and manage seizures.

During their hospital stay, patients are under continuous visual observation for seizure activity, high resolution digital video is used to capture and study seizure or seizure-like episodes, with simultaneous recording of the EEG. In combination, this data allows our epileptologists to determine whether seizures are due to epilepsy or some other cause, and if they are epileptic in nature, the type and origin of seizure activity within the brain. Accurate determination of the cause of a patient’s seizure or epilepsy then permits appropriate treatment that can be tailored to manage and control seizures.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan is an imaging technique that produces cross-sectional images, like slices, of your head or body that are more detailed than those produced by conventional X-ray exams. Instead of radiation, MRI uses a strong magnetic field to acquire the images. MRI technology has increased dramatically over the last 25 years. All patients undergo routine high field strength (3T), high resolution MRI with advanced imaging sequences to optimally analyze the brain for subtle abnormalities that may give rise to seizures. This set of images is routinely superimposed or “fused” with either PET, MEG, or SPECT to create a highly detailed integration of structure and function, often highlighting the area of seizure onset for surgical treatment.

Functional MRI (fMRI)

fMRI is a specialized type of MRI that is used to identify areas of highly specialized or “eloquent” brain functions, such as language and critical motor areas for movement of the face and hands.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

PET is used to measured metabolic activity in the brain and may suggest if there are areas of dysfunction. It is particularly useful in the identification of seizure onset when a patient’s MRI appears normal.

Magnetoencephalogram (MEG)

Minute magnetic fields are produced with electrical activity in the brain. The MEG is able to detect these small fields and may help to determine if there are clusters of abnormal activity that are not always detectable with a scalp EEG or imaging studies.

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)

SPECT measures blood flow and brain metabolism by monitoring photons emitted by iodine-labeled tracers carried in the blood to the brain.

Computed Tomography (CT)

A CT or CAT scan is an imaging technique that produces cross-sectional images, like slices, of your head or body that are more detailed than those images produced by conventional X-ray exams.