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Did You Know Mondays=Outpatient EEGs Another Option

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Why Do An Outpatient EEG vs. An Inpatient EEG?

I have had several of both inpatient and outpatient EEGs over many years. There are positives and negatives to both, but both are equally not fun at all. Below is an image of me just getting home. I might be smiling or at least trying to be when leads are first placed on. Come the end of 72 hours, I am definitely not as happy looking LOL.

How Outpatient EEG Is Completed

EEG wires are placed on your scalp, like in a routine EEG, then attached to a special recorder that is slightly larger than a portable cassette player. The cassette player, you can see in the image above wrapped over my shoulder.

Wires are running under my shirt, to check heart rate and attached to my scalp. You can also see the wires in the long black cord. The electrodes on my scalp are covered with the sexy gauze dressing you see in image. Some places may use a cap to cover, unfortunately I never have that option as apparently I had an odd shaped head and it won't stay on. What can I say, I am always unique.

They say you can go about your normal routine for up to 24- 72 hours, this only means you aren't confined to a hospital bed in my mind. I always had a 3 day testing. You cannot go longer than that because the recorder can only hold that much information. You still can't shower or sweat, cause you have to make sure the wires do not get wet. Plus don't even think of itching your head, because you could scratch off a electrode or cause a false reading. You have to sit as much as possible in front of a small video camera and sleep with it on. This is to capture anything that might appear as a seizure which maybe you didn't know occured. Whenever you do feel a seizure or someone observes one for you, there is a red button you push that is on the cassette and this will time stamp the brain activity. Then afterwards you log what you felt before, during and afterwards. Just like I do for my normal daily epilepsy log I track for my neurologist.

The image below shows the video camera that you place wherever you are seated, or sleeping at night,

to capture any unusual movements which could have been seizures.

Because the electrodes are outpatient the the technologist will probably use a special glue called "collodion" to keep them in place stronger, since you aren't in a hospital where they check them often. I didn't even think there could be even stronger glue, but oh there is! After 3 days you return to the outptatient to have the elctrodes removed. Acetone, like nail polish removal, is used to remove the glue at the end of the test. The smell of this at times places me into a seizure. I know many of those that have had an EEG, can feel my pain here!

A short clip of them placing electrodes on.

The aftermath when electrodes have been removed, and as you can see some skin along with it. As she is still trying to get glue out of my hair.

This isn't for the weak for testing.

Why Do an Outpatient EEG?

For some people you tend to have seizures more often in your "typical" environment, in place of sitting in a hospital bed. So inpatient EEGs, you might be hospitalized longer to capture a seizure. In my personal case, my outpatient was not "normal" due to me traveling to Mayo and my folks live closest so I stayed with them. I was not doing housework, or taking care of family or working from home at the time. No matter how old you get, your parents always want to take care of you:) Plus they made sure I sat in front of that camera, so I watched movies, rested, they made my meals, enjoyed time with them even if I was physically very uncomfortable, unless I did have a work call at the time. My favorite part is always getting FaceTime calls from my hubby and boys, and always will be.

What my outpatient did do is discover my nocturnal seizures, since I wasn't being sleeped deprived like an inpatient trying to capture day seizures. Also, they are less money out of pocket due to being shorter and not hospitalized.

So now you know another possible option for epilepsy EEG testing. This is only an option for some, and has to be approved by insurance as usual. Many times my neurologist would compare my inpatient EEG to my outpatient, and see if there was a large discrepancy and figure out what is causing it.


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