TABLE 4-1Diagnostic Studies Used in Evaluating and Treating People with Epilepsy

Diagnostic TestsDescriptionIndication
Electroencephalograph (EEG)Measures electrical activity in the brainUseful for any individual with suspected seizures
Continuous video-EEG monitoringCombines long-term EEG recording with video recording of an individual's behaviorUseful in determining seizure type; essential for patients undergoing a surgical evaluation for epilepsy
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)Uses magnetic fields to detect structural abnormalities in the brainUseful for imaging the brain for lesions such as tumors and scar tissue
Computerized tomography (CT)Uses radiation to detect structural abnormalities in the brainUseful for detecting structural abnormalities such as tumors as well as hemorrhages
Magnetoencephalography (MEG)Uses magnetic signals to detect abnormalities in the brain's electrical activityUseful primarily for patients undergoing surgical evaluation
Positron emission tomography (PET) or single positron emission tomography (SPECT)Uses radioactive tracers to assess glucose metabolism or blood flow in the brainUseful in determining the area of the brain where seizures arise since these areas typically have decreased glucose metabolism and blood flow in between seizures
Genetic or metabolic testingUses blood, urine, and spinal fluid tests to determine if there is a genetic cause of the epilepsyUseful for diagnosing epilepsy-related genetic or metabolic disorders. Although many tests are available, there is not yet a standard screen

From: 4, Health Care: Quality, Access, and Value

Cover of Epilepsy Across the Spectrum
Epilepsy Across the Spectrum: Promoting Health and Understanding.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of the Epilepsies; England MJ, Liverman CT, Schultz AM, et al., editors.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2012.
Copyright © 2012, National Academy of Sciences.

NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.