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Ambulatory Electroencephalogram in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about an ambulatory electroencephalogram (EEG)?

  • An ambulatory EEG is a test that measures the electrical activity in your child's brain. The test lasts for 24 hours or more. The test will start in the healthcare provider's office and continue in your home. The discs and wires on your child's head will be connected to a recorder. The recorder is a small box that can be worn on your child's waist with straps. Your child's head may be wrapped with gauze or covered with a cap. The gauze or cap will help hold the discs and wires in place.
  • Your child may need an ambulatory EEG to diagnose or monitor seizures or sleep disorders. An ambulatory EEG can help healthcare providers decide if treatment should be started, stopped, or changed. Your child may also need an ambulatory EEG before surgery for epilepsy. This will help your child's surgeon plan his or her surgery.

What can I do to care for my child during an ambulatory EEG?

  • Have your child follow his or her normal routine as much as possible. Do not let your child remove the gauze or cap. Tell your child not to scratch his or her head. Do not let your child play contact sports or do activities that could cause the discs to fall off.
  • Keep a journal of your child's symptoms and activities during the EEG. This will help your child's provider compare the EEG recording to your child's symptoms or seizure activity. Give the following instructions to your child's caregivers and teachers:
    • Write down your child's daily activities such as eating or sleeping. Your child's healthcare provider may tell you to write down other activities such as watching TV.
    • Write down your child's symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or changes in your child's vision. Write down any other symptoms that your child's healthcare provider tells you to.
    • Write down the details of your child's seizure. Press the event button on the recorder if your child has a seizure. Also write down the following:
      • The date and time of your child's seizure
      • How long your child's seizure lasted
      • Your child's body movements and how he or she acted during the seizure
      • What your child was doing before the seizure started
      • How your child felt before and after the seizure
  • Do not let your child get the recorder wet. Do not let your child shower or go swimming during the EEG. Water can damage the recorder. It is okay to for your child to take a sponge bath.

What should I do if my child has a seizure?

Give the following instructions to family, teachers, and anyone that cares for your child:

  • Do not panic.
  • Note the start time of the seizure. Record how long it lasts.
  • Gently guide your child to the floor or a soft surface. Cushion his or her head and remove sharp objects from the area around him or her.
  • Place your child on his or her side to help prevent him or her from swallowing saliva or vomit.
  • Loosen your child's clothing around the head and neck.
  • Remove any objects from your child's mouth. Do not put anything in your child's mouth. This may prevent him or her from breathing.
  • Perform CPR if your child stops breathing or you cannot feel his or her pulse.
  • Let your child sleep or rest after the seizure. Your child may be confused for a short time after the seizure. Do not give your child anything to eat or drink until he or she is fully awake.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has trouble breathing or stops breathing.
  • Your child cannot be woken after a seizure.
  • Your child's seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • Your child has more than 1 seizure before he or she is fully awake or aware.
  • Your child has a seizure in water.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child has more than 1 seizure in 24 hours.
  • Your child is injured during a seizure.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child's discs fall off or the recorder gets wet.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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