EEG Lab

Image of a patient getting an eeg

With the move of adult neurology and neurosurgery services to UFHealth’s Neuromedicine hospital in December 2017, EEG services are now fully integrated into our new, bright and airy workspace. Our aim for EEG at UFHealth Neuromedicine is to deliver a modern, high-throughput and efficient outpatient service.

UFHealth’s Epilepsy Service – the University of Florida Comprehensive Epilepsy Program (UFCEP) – is north Florida’s only NAEC level 4 epilepsy program, and is among the largest and most experienced of our nation’s public university health systems.  The outpatient EEG lab is a central feature of our neurodiagnostic service. The lab performs routine EEG, multi-day ambulatory EEG, short (6-hour) video-EEG, evoked potentials and PET-EEG within the larger neurodiagnostic larger service line that has commitments to neuromuscular neurology, the neurosurgery spine service and intra-operative monitoring.  Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are planned additions within the next year, which will make UFHealth neurodiagnostics among the most comprehensive clinical neurophysiology programs operating anywhere in the nation.

Our EEG lab is staffed by 18 technologists, with 10 of them possessing one or more registries. The outpatient lab runs 8-5 M-F, but the inpatient service for EEG is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The inpatient EEG service also performs long-term monitoring (LTM) all over the UFHealth hospital complex spread over several buildings, in addition to serving the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU). The latter two activities are detailed elsewhere on our webpages. In 2018 we performed over 3000 days of long-term monitoring and over 3800 short studies (20-40 minute EEGs). These high volumes are expected to grow further over the next few years to accompany the more general expansion of epilepsy services at UFHealth.

As part of our commitment to excellence, all neurodiagnostic staff are required to obtain their EEG board certification with 24 months of hire to ensure we provide service of the highest quality.

As with any aspect of the epilepsy division’s activities, feel free to email or call us with questions and clarifications at UFCEP@neurology.ufl.edu, (352) 273-9570.

Information for Patients

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is one of the main diagnostic tests for epilepsy. An EEG records the electrical activity of the brain via metallic electrodes affixed to the scalp. EEGs are either performed as ‘short’ studies (20 minutes – 1 hour) or as longer studies (ambulatory EEGs, short-term video-EEG and EEG monitoring). We only discuss the first two studies on this page; our EEG monitoring service is detailed elsewhere (Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Critical Care EEG Monitoring).

Aside from epilepsy, an important and common use of EEG is for disorders of sleep (Sleep Medicine). Occasionally, an EEG may be used for hospitalized patients to diagnose brain death. 

EEGs are safe and painless and pose no risks. The electrodes only pick up electrical charges; they do not emit electricity are therefore harmless. Your doctor will have requested an EEG to find our whether you have epilepsy. Like most medical tests, EEGs are not 100% accurate, and they can be normal in patients who are later proven to have epilepsy. In addition, there are many abnormalities that an EEG may show that do not necessarily mean that the patient has epilepsy. The epilepsy physician team at UFHealth has several decades of experience in interpreting EEGs, and patients can be assured that their EEGs are being interpreted by experts.

How to prepare

  • Avoid anything with caffeine on the day of the test because it can affect the test results.
  • Take your usual medications unless instructed otherwise.
  • Wash your hair the night before or the day of the test, but don’t use conditioners, hair creams, sprays or styling gels. Hair products can make it harder for the sticky patches that hold the electrodes to adhere to your scalp.
  • If you’re supposed to sleep during your EEG test, your doctor might ask you to sleep less or avoid sleep the night before your test.

During the test

During an EEG, flat metal discs (electrodes) are attached to your scalp. The electrodes are connected to the EEG machine with wires. Some people wear an elastic cap fitted with electrodes, instead of having the adhesive applied to their scalps. Sometimes seizure-like abnormalities are triggered in people with epilepsy during the test which are brought on by deep breathing or flashing lights, but appropriate emergency medical care is always available as needed.

Ambulatory EEGs, which allow for longer monitoring outside an office or hospital setting, are sometimes recommended instead of short EEGs. Ambulatory EEGs record brain activity over several days, which increases the chances of catching seizure activity or seizure-like spells. For these, you will come into our lab, have the electrodes affixed to your scalp and go home with the electrodes and a tape recorder that stores all the EEG information over the study period. You return to the lab after a day (sometimes up to three days later) to have the electrodes removed and the tape recorder returned. Your team of physicians will analyze the recordings and send a report back to your clinic doctor.

Short-term video-EEG is 6-hour procedure where EEG along with video is recorded in a comfortable room. This type of test is suitable for some patients, where the doctor needs to see the spell or seizure, and they are happening frequently enough to be captured in a few hours.

Results

Your doctor will normally discuss the results of your test at your next scheduled office appointment.