Neurodiagnostic procedures, offered by Atlantic Neuroscience Institute at both Morristown Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center, help neurologists observe and measure the electrical activity in the brain and nervous system. Procedures such as electroencephalograms (EEG), evoked potentials (EP), and polysomnograms (PSG) or sleep studies play an important role in diagnosing epilepsy, sleep apnea, migraine headaches, strokes and carpal tunnel syndrome. Neurology tests are performed by technologists who record the information, and a specialty-trained physician then interprets the results and reports the findings to your referring physician.
Electroencephalogram – The pain-free EEG uses highly sensitive monitoring electrodes placed on the scalp to record the electrical activity of the brain over the course of approximately 90 minutes. Physicians use the results to diagnose a variety of neurological problems, from common headaches and dizziness to seizure disorders, strokes and degenerative brain disease. The EEG also helps determine organic causes of psychiatric symptoms and disabilities in children.
- 24 hour ambulatory EEG – This neurology test records brain activity for 24 hours on a small tape recorder which the patient keeps with him or her at all times. The patient also uses a diary to record activities and symptoms during the 24 hour period.
- Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies – EMG evaluates function in peripheral nerves and muscles to diagnose nerve compression (carpal tunnel syndrome), radiculopathies (pinched nerves in the spine), diseases of the nerves (peripheral neuropathies, Lou Gehrig’s disease), disorders of the neuromuscular junction (myasthenia gravis) and muscle diseases such as myositis or muscular dystrophy. During the procedure, brief electrical impulses are applied to the skin at different sites to measure muscle responsiveness. A small needle may also be inserted into various sites to record the electrical currents generated by the muscles themselves, without any applied electrical stimulus. Both procedures entail some discomfort, but are generally well tolerated by most individuals.
- Evoked potential – EP is a recording of electrical activity in the brain, spinal nerves or sensory receptors in response to specific external stimulation. After electrodes are applied to the scalp and other areas of the body, a computer records the body’s neurological responses to a series of stimuli and plots responses on a graph which is then interpreted by a neurologist. EP helps diagnose several different neurological problems, including spinal cord injury, acoustic neuroma and optic neuritis.
- Long term epilepsy monitoring – The simultaneous recording of EEG and videotaped behavior over extended periods of time is useful in diagnosing patients with intermittent or infrequent disturbances. These lengthy tests are performed using special computers in the lab or in the epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU).
- Transcranial Doppler – Doppler ultrasound techniques measure blood flow in blood vessels and arteries to measure the speed of blood flow. This noninvasive technique assesses blood vessel spasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage and other types of stroke.
- Magnetoencephalography (MEG) scan – This completely noninvasive procedure uses an array of highly-sensitive sensors to detect and record the magnetic fields associated with electrical activity in the brain. For epilepsy patients, MEG enables physicians to localize, with precise accuracy, the location(s) where the epileptic activity originates. This information is invaluable in determining if you are a good candidate for surgery and also in planning the surgery itself, if necessary.