What Are the Different Types of EEG Monitoring?

Published 7/13/2023

Clipboard with paper clipped to it with the acronym EEG written on it by gloved hand with marker

EEG stands for electroencephalogram, which measures electrical activity in the brain using electrodes on the scalp. This technology diagnoses and tracks neurological and mental conditions like epilepsy, sleep disorders, cerebrovascular disease, and disorders of consciousness.

EEG monitoring occurs in settings including sleep labs, intensive care units, hospital rooms, or at home. Some EEG devices are wearable, transmitting data remotely to healthcare professionals.

It combines with other data like video, movement, eye tracking, or facial expressions for a comprehensive brain function and behavior analysis. But what are the types of EEG monitoring? Why does a reputable EEG monitoring service with experienced and skilled professionals play a critical role? In today's article, we will answer these questions.

EEG with Video Monitoring

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, comparing EEG data alongside video lets physicians determine seizure type and optimal treatment. Video EEG monitoring takes place in a hospital or outpatient setting. Testing duration varies based on seizure frequency. More recurrent seizures enable faster diagnosis.

During monitoring, patients go about normal activities until a seizure occurs. At seizure onset, the EEG machine traces abnormal electrical discharges in the brain, and the video camera documents observable symptoms and actions.

Physicians then analyze the brainwave data alongside the video to pinpoint the seizure origin within the brain. Video EEG monitoring provides an overview of seizure activity.

The EEG records the brain's electrical activity. The synchronized video depicts physical movements, behaviors, and vocalizations. Together, doctors can analyze brain wave patterns and observable seizure manifestations.

This differentiation helps distinguish epilepsy from non-epileptic seizures. Video EEG monitoring leads to accurate diagnoses and tailored treatment plans. Unnecessary medication is avoided if seizures are non-epileptic.

For epilepsy, drugs and therapy are customized to the patient's seizure type. Precise video EEG-guided treatment reduces seizures and improves quality of life. Health facilities should hire a reputable EEG monitoring company for video EEG due to their expertise, efficiency, flexibility, and quality control capabilities.

Long-term EEG Monitoring

A study published in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) shows that long-term EEG monitoring records brain electrical activity over extended periods. Primarily utilized for epilepsy diagnosis and management, long-term EEG also finds application in intensive care units, operating rooms, and emergency departments. Its core purpose lies in expanding the limited-time sampling of standard EEGs.

Multiple conditions warrant long-term EEG monitoring. These include seizure diagnosis and treatment, sleep disorder evaluation, assessing cerebrovascular disease, psychiatric conditions, and movement disorders. Long-term EEG duration aligns with monitoring goals and seizure frequency.

For epilepsy, long-term EEG localizes seizure origin within the brain. It differentiates epilepsy from non-epileptic seizures. Monitoring precedes surgery for medication-resistant epilepsy. Patients undergo monitoring while performing normal activities until seizures manifest.

The EEG traces abnormal discharges at seizure onset alongside observable symptoms. Comparing EEG data and video evidence, physicians accurately diagnose seizure type and optimal treatment. Beyond epilepsy, long-term EEG also aids prognosis after cardiac arrest or traumatic brain injury.

Routine EEG

Routine EEG monitoring is a test that measures the electrical activity in the brain. Small metal discs called electrodes are attached to the scalp during the test. The electrodes detect the impulses that brain cells use to communicate with each other.

The brain is always active, even during sleep, and this constant activity shows up as wavy lines on the EEG recording. According to the NHS, the test itself usually takes 20 to 40 minutes, but a typical appointment lasts about an hour when preparation time at the beginning and time at the end are included.

The EEG can help diagnose conditions like seizures, head injuries, tumors, inflammation, and sleep disorders. It may be part of a routine exam or when someone has symptoms like seizures or confusion. While the test itself is painless, the preparation can take some time.

The scalp may need to be measured to determine electrode placement. A conductive paste is applied to improve the connection between the electrodes and the scalp. While rare, skin irritation from the paste is possible.

During the test, relaxing, staying still, and following instructions about eye opening/closing or hyperventilation is essential. Movement can affect the quality of the recording.

Prolonged EEG

So, what is a prolonged EEG? The test takes around one hour and fifteen minutes, though some types can continue for several days. This extended recording time provides more brain wave data than a routine EEG. Healthcare providers may recommend a prolonged EEG to help diagnose and manage seizure disorders.

During a prolonged EEG, a technician attaches numerous small electrodes to the scalp using a conductive paste. The electrodes detect the electrical impulses of brain cell communication. These impulses appear as wavy lines on the EEG readout.

Patients relax in a reclining chair or bed while the EEG records their brain's electrical activity. Unlike a routine EEG, a prolonged EEG monitors brain waves for an extended period.

This allows it to capture infrequent events like seizures or episodic discharges. The prolonged recording increases the likelihood of detecting abnormal electrical patterns associated with neurological conditions.

Patients can even sleep overnight while wearing the electrodes. The extended monitoring provides valuable additional information to neurologists treating complex seizure disorders or assessing head injuries. A prolonged EEG is a crucial diagnostic tool for capturing rare or intermittent brain wave abnormalities.

Ambulatory EEG

An ambulatory EEG allows extended brain wave monitoring outside of a clinic. Electrodes attach to the scalp and connect to a portable recorder the size of a smartphone. With this compact device, patients can undergo EEG testing for 1-3 days while going about normal activities.

The ambulatory EEG captures electrical impulses as people follow their daily routines, providing neurologists with a complete portrait of brain function. Patients sleep at home with the electrodes on, recording overnight brain activity. They can drive, exercise, work, and more while the recorder tracks EEG data.

If any seizures or neurological symptoms occur during monitoring, patients press an event button on the device to flag the timeframe. This allows doctors to correlate brain waves with real-world behaviors and experiences.

Sleep EEG

Specialized electrodes monitor brain waves during slumber to detect sleep disorders. As you doze, the sensors track electrical activity in designated brain regions. This sleep EEG provides a timeline of your brain cycling through stages of sleep.

Doctors examine the recordings for disruptions that explain insomnia, sleepwalking, night terrors, or excessive daytime drowsiness. Abnormal brain wave patterns may signal underlying neurological conditions disturbing rest.

A sleep EEG also diagnoses sleep apnea by revealing whether breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If a routine awake EEG fails to explain symptoms; an overnight sleep study clarifies if problematic brain signaling interferes with needed restorative rest.

Various types of EEG monitoring play critical roles in diagnosing and managing neurological conditions. Selecting the appropriate EEG test and duration gives neurologists the electrical brainwave data needed for accurate analysis.

Neurotech is an EEG Monitoring Company Specializing in Ambulatory and Continuous EEG Technology

An EEG monitoring service with extensive experience optimizes this invaluable diagnostic process. Contact the EEG monitoring company Neurotech today to discuss your EEG testing needs. Our experts are ready to help.