The nerve cells in your brain work by carrying tiny electrical charges. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a procedure that records this electrical activity in your brain.
An EEG can help your healthcare provider diagnose medical problems, such as epilepsy, sleep apnea, dementia (the loss of the ability to think, remember, reason, and plan), brain infection, and brain tumors. This procedure is sometimes used during surgery to check the effect of anesthesia. It may be used to test for brain death in cases of severe injury or illness.
An EEG is painless and normally takes 45 minutes or may be done as part of an overnight sleep test. During the procedure your child will relax in a reclining chair or bed. Small metal plates (electrodes) will be pasted or taped to your child’s head. The electrodes will send information to a machine that records your child’s brain waves on paper. Young children do not like the feel of the electrodes, but it doesn’t hurt except when the electrodes are removed.
EEGs may be done while your child is:
The EEG records how your child’s brain responds to these different situations.
Your child may have a video EEG instead. During a video EEG, your child is watched on a video screen for several hours. This allows healthcare providers to see your child's brainwave activity when your child has a seizure.
Your child may be able to go home as soon as the procedure is done.
Ask your child’s healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of the procedure.
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
There are no risks. Discuss any concerns you have with your healthcare provider.