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EEG - What is an Ambulatory EEG?

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EEG (Electroencephalogram)

What is an Ambulatory EEG?

An EEG (Electroencephalogram) is a test that measures the electrical activity in the brain, called brain waves. An EEG measures brain waves through small button electrodes that are placed on your child’s scalp.  An Ambulatory EEG is worn home and recorded for twenty-four hours.

What should we do to get ready for the Ambulatory EEG?

  • Wash your child’s hair the night before. Do not put any oil, gel, or hairspray on the hair. If the hair is long, do not braid or put it up. No hair extensions please.
  • Give medicines as usual. Bring a list of all medicines (how much and when) your child takes to the EEG Lab.
  • Your child should not eat one hour before the test.
  • On the day of the EEG, your child should not have any drinks with caffeine (Coke, Pepsi, coffee, tea)
  • Have your child wear a button-down shirt as they will not be able to pull anything over their head.
  • It takes about an hour to set up and your child will have to return the next morning to have it disconnected.  

Who does the Ambulatory EEG?

A trained registered Neurophysiology technologist will perform the test.

How is the Ambulatory EEG done?

Your child will be asked to lie down on a stretcher bed. The technologist will explain the procedure to you and your child. The EEG technologist measures your child’s head and makes small marks on the scalp with a washable grease pencil. Each marked area is rubbed with a gritty lotion so the electrodes transmit well. The electrodes are applied to the scalp with glue.  The electrodes are placed in backpack your child will carry with them.  

What happens during the Ambulatory EEG?

Your child may be asked to do a blowing exercise (hyperventilate) or look at flashing lights.  You will be given a diary to keep track of the daily events.  Your child must be monitored by an adult through the duration of the study.  It is not recommended that they attend school while wearing the equipment.   

What happens after the Ambulatory EEG?

Once the test is complete, the electrodes will be removed. The child’s hair will need to be washed at home to remove any residual paste, glue or prep. The child may leave after the procedure is completed.

Are there any risks?

Experts in neurology have studied EEG for many years and report it is a safe procedure.

Who looks at the Ambulatory EEG?

A neurologist will read the Ambulatory EEG and a report will be sent to your child’s doctor within a week of the study date.

Who will give me the results?

The results will be faxed to your child’s referring physician and accessible in five to seven business days.

How should I prepare my child?

The leads will be glued on and can feel itchy.  It is important that your child does not scratch his/her head as it can loosen the leads and make the study unable to be interpreted.  The backpack will need to stay on the child’s back unless they are sleeping.  During that time it can be placed above the child’s pillow to be out of the way.  Normal activity is encouraged within reason. 

Please call your child’s doctor or the EEG laboratory (668-7219) if you have any questions or concerns.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 5/11

(757) 668-7000