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Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Center

Electroencephalogram (EEG)
This test measures electricity in the brain (or brain waves). Electrodes are pasted to the person's head and used to see if there are any seizures and/or any abnormalities that might lead to seizures. EEGs are done in Hartsdale (Westchester County) and at Mount Sinai Roosevelt and Beth Israel. Weekend appointments are available. EEGs can be either routine (no special preparation is necessary) or sleep-deprived. If the EEG is to be with sleep deprivation, the child or adult should be kept awake for two hours later than usual on the night before the test and awakened one hour earlier than usual on the morning of the test. This is done so that he or she will fall asleep during the test.

This is a more prolonged test to measure electricity in the brain. This test involves staying in the hospital for one or more nights, with a video camera recording when the patient is sleeping and awake. This is done if the child has seizures in sleep, or it there are memory issues and the suspicion of nocturnal seizures, or if the episodes are not clearly seizures. Beth Israel has a state-of-the-art Pediatric Epilepsy Unit, separate from the pediatric floor. It has a new playroom and family room, with wireless internet access and beds for parents.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This test uses the magnetic properties of body tissues to create a detailed image of the brain. It does not use radiation. It takes about 45 minutes, and takes place inside a large, noisy cylinder. When it is used for people with epilepsy, a certain protocol is followed, to be sure that there is a clear image of the areas of the brain where seizures are most likely to begin.

Functional MRI
This test uses the magnetic properties of brain tissues to determine which areas of the brain control certain activities, like movements and language. The patient is awake and must answer questions and move certain parts of the body when asked to do so.

WADA
This test determines which part of the brain controls language function, involving injection of medicine into an artery, while an EEG is being performed. It is done in special room in the hospital. A neuropsychologist, a neurologist and an EEG technician are present. The patient is awake for this test and must answer a series of questions and move his/her arm.

SPECT
This test is done in the hospital, either between seizures or during a seizure. It involves an injection and measures blood flow to the brain.

PET
A PET scan looks at brain metabolism (how the brain uses glucose (sugar)).

Neuropsychological testing
This testing takes place over a few days, and is done with paper and pencil and computers, building things and talking to a psychologist. These tests tell us about your short-term and intermediate-term memory, expressive and receptive language, general intelligence, concentration, attention, motor skills, sensory skills, visual-spatial skills, complex problem-solving and executive functioning. The tests are graded for speed and accuracy.

CT or CAT scan
A CT or CAT scan is a Computerized Axial Tomography, a scan that takes only about 15 minutes and is used to determine if there abnormal deposits, called calcifications, in the brain, and if there are any abnormalities in the skull.

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