EEG (Electroencephalogram)

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The electroencephalogram (e-LEK-tro-en-SEF-ah-lo-gram), or EEG, is a test that records the electrical activity of the brain.

How to Prepare for the Test

  • Explain to your child what will happen during the test in a way he or she can understand. The technician will do this also.
  • Do not give your child coffee, tea, soda pop or chocolate the day of the test. These stimulants can keep your child from relaxing.
  • Shampoo your child's hair the night before the test.
  • Comb and brush the hair neatly. If the child's hair is long, put it into a loose ponytail. Do not “tease” your child's hair.
  • Do not use any hair spray, hairdressing, conditioner or oils on your child's hair. Hairdressing or oil prevents good contact between the electrodes and skin.
  • Your child will need to sleep during the test.
  • Continue to give your child prescribed medicine unless your child’s doctor gives other orders.
  • Be sure to bring whatever your child likes to sleep with (such as a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, pacifier or bottle).
  • Do not let your child sleep in the car or on the bus on the way to the test.

How the Test Is Done

child having an EEG

  • A technician will talk to your child about how the test is done.
  • Because your child will not be sedated (given medicine to make him sleepy) during the EEG test, he or she may be wrapped snugly in blankets or placed on a papoose board while the electrodes are being put on. A papoose board is specially designed for young children to lie on. Usually the papoose is used for children to keep them from rolling around on the bed or pulling on the wires (Picture 1).
  • Several small areas of your child's scalp will be prepared for the test by gently scrubbing with a Q-tip® and mild cleanser. Small round buttons (called electrodes) are then attached to the scalp using gauze squares and glue. The glue is gently blown dry with a hand-held dryer. The dryer makes a sound like a hair dryer at home. The buttons are filled with a paste which makes contact between the scalp and the buttons. Your child's skin may become slightly pink from the procedure.
  • Wires from the buttons are then attached to the computer (Picture 1).
  • During the test your child should lie still, relax and take a short nap.
  • During the test a computer records the faint electrical impulses of the brain.
  • This test usually takes two hours.
  • Any remaining dried glue is easily washed away with shampoo.

After the Test

A doctor will read the EEG. The report will be sent to your child's doctor or clinic and your doctor will discuss the results with you.
If you cannot keep this appointment, Please call (614) 722-8805 to cancel.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or technician or call the Nationwide Children's Hospital Neurodiagnostic Services at (614) 722-8805.
HH-III-5 10/76, Revised 3/12 Copyright 1976-2012, Nationwide Children’s Hospital