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Epilepsy Diagnostic Tests and Screenings

Atlantic Health System Neuroscience's Epilepsy Center offers specialized health care services for those patients who have been seen by a primary care physician and need additional diagnostic services for epilepsy and seizures. 

doctor standing next to MEG epilepsy diagnostic tool
Patients are typically referred for one of the following reasons:
 
  • A diagnosis of epilepsy is unclear
  • A diagnosis of a seizure disorder has been given by the patient’s primary care physician, but the type of epilepsy has not been definitively established
  • Seizure activity requires an emergency visit
  • Treatment with medication has not been totally successful
  • The patient has been seizure free for some time, and wishes to discontinue taking antiepileptic medication

At our epilepsy center, an epileptologist (a neurologist with specialty training in epilepsy) will take a complete medical history, perform a physical exam and review all relevant medical records. Typically, the patient’s diagnosis is clear-cut and treatment is initiated immediately. However, some patients may require additional epilepsy testing, such as:

Intraoperative monitoring (IOM)
– Used during neurologic or orthopedic surgeries to limit injuries to the nervous system by detecting them in real time
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
– Locates structural defects in the brain that may be causing seizures
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
– Determines the presence of biochemical markers, which may indicate where seizures originate in the brain
Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
– Records the magnetic fields associated with electrical activity in the brain to help physicians localize, with precise accuracy, where epileptic activity originates; used to non-invasively determine a patient’s candidacy for surgery and in surgical planning
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
– Visualizes areas of the brain that are less metabolically active due to seizure activity
Routine electroencephalogram (EEG)
– Measures electrical activity in the brain; performed as an outpatient procedure in our EEG lab and takes between 30 and 90 minutes
Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan
– Helps determine where a seizure originates in the brain by measuring blood flow in different areas
Video EEG monitoring
– Uses visual observation and electronic data to document seizures and determine which type of epilepsy a patient may have; performed as an inpatient procedure over the course of three to four days