What is an EEG?
An electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a test that measures brain waves with small electrodes placed on your child's scalp.
Prior to EEG Checklist
- Wash your child's hair the night before the test. Do not use oil, gel, or hairspray. Do not braid your child's hair or put it up. No hair extensions, please.
- It is important that your child is extremely tired upon arrival. Please keep your child awake two hours later than usual the night before the test and wake them two or three hours earlier than usual the morning of the test (or whatever it takes to make your child tired enough sleep when they come in for their EEG). Do not allow your child to nap during the ride to Methodist or while awaiting the EEG test. If your child does not fall asleep for the EEG, the results are still good, but less information will be obtained.
- The prep book "Let Me Tell You About My EEG Test" will help you talk with your child about the test. Before coming to UnityPoint Health - Methodist, explain to your child what will happen in words they can understand. Be honest with your child about their medical test, surgery, or procedure so that they have the opportunity to ask questions and you can address any misconceptions. For younger children, it is best to explain right before the test/procedure so that they are less anxious. For school-age children or teenagers, parents/caregivers can talk to their child several days before their visit to UnityPoint Health - Methodist. To help explain to your child about their test/procedure, utilize the topic specific prep book. Sometimes, it is difficult to know how to explain visits to the hospital to children. If you would like help please call a Child Life Specialist at 309-671-2145.
Day of EEG Checklist
- Give your child his/her medications as usual. Bring a list of all the medications.
- Regular meals are permitted. Caffeine or excessive sugar from sodas, coffee, chocolate, etc. should be avoided.
- Bring your child's favorite soothing items from home, such as pacifier, bottle, blanket or hand-held games.
How is the EEG done?
- The EEG technologist or child life specialist will explain the procedure to you and your child. This test does not hurt. It just is very sensory oriented with smell, stickiness and lights, and your child will need to lie still while the electrodes are placed with sticky glue.
- The procedure is usually done with the child lying down on a bed. In some circumstances a parent may hold their child in a reclining chair or lay down with their child on the bed to help them hold still. This can be helpful, especially for babies, young children under 6 years old and children with developmental delays. The child's head will need to remain accessible to the technicians so they may place the electrodes.
- There will be a total of 24 electrodes placed on your child's head and one by their collarbone
- The EEG technologist will measure your child's head and make small marks on the scalp with a red washable marker.
- Each marked area is rubbed with a gritty lotion so the electrodes transmit well.
- Paste is put on the electrodes, which are applied to each of the marked spots on the scalp.
- The electrodes are connected to the EEG machine and the test begins.
- During the recording he/she may be asked to breathe fast (hyperventilate), look at flashing lights, and try to sleep. The entire process takes about 90 minutes.
- If you think your child may need sedation for the test please check with your EEG ordering physician. In general, we try to avoid sedative medications as it may potentially compromise the EEG's quality.
What happens after the EEG?
The EEG will be interpreted by a neurologist, and the results will usually be sent to your doctor within 48 hours.
Your physician will be notified as soon as possible if the Neurologist sees unexpected abnormalities. The technologists are unable to provide you with the results.