By Lisa Marinelli Smith
For people experiencing neurological concerns, such as seizures, a 72-hour EEG provides valuable insights to help doctors diagnose or rule out conditions.
An EEG, short for electroencephalogram, records the brain’s electrical signals using small electrodes attached to the scalp. EEGs record patients’ brainwaves so neurologists can diagnose a range of concerns, including concussions, dizziness, headaches and sleep disorders.
Many NeuLine patients undergo EEGs as part of an epilepsy diagnosis – either for a new diagnosis or to reevaluate medication if they have already been diagnosed.
NeuLine’s portable technology and experienced registered technicians make it possible for patients to undergo 72-hour ambulatory EEGs from the comfort of home, rather than checking into a hospital or clinic for the test.
“By performing the test over three days, especially in a setting the patient is used to, we can capture what may be going on abnormally in the brain and when it’s happening,” explains Shawn Brown, a lead field technician for NeuLine Health.
What happens before my 72-hour EEG?
After your primary care provider or neurologist submits an order to NeuLine Health, we will work with you to book your test when it’s most convenient for you. We strive to coordinate around work schedules and other obligations and events when possible.
Then, NeuLine Health will assign your case to one of its registered technicians, who will get in touch with you 24-48 hours before the test to go over instructions and explain what to expect.
Some topics covered include:
- Asking patients to wash their hair before the test but avoid using hair products afterward
- Ensuring patients understand that they must not exert themselves during the test or they risk the leads falling off
- Designating an area where the tech and patient can go over paperwork
- Creating space for the equipment, about the size of a small carryon suitcase, usually set up in the bedroom
What happens after a NeuLine Health tech arrives at my house?
When a NeuLine Tech arrives, you and the tech will go over paperwork, including a consent form, history form and log sheet. The tech will speak to you about the process of applying the electrodes and how the test will work. We also follow current COVID-19 guidelines.
Here’s what happens next:
- The tech uses a wax pencil to designate where to place the 21 electrodes. Two will be on the forehead, two on the temples and the rest on the scalp.
- The tech cleans the areas where the electrodes will be placed and attached to the scalp using a conductive paste and a water-soluble adhesive.
- Then the tech applies a gauze cap to the patient’s head to keep all the wires in place.
- Wires go from the head to the Trackit and are kept in a pouch that patients wear to move around while undergoing the test.
- The tech will also apply two EKG leads on the chest to monitor the heart rate and rhythm.
This process will take from an hour to 90 minutes, Brown says. Your doctor may want you to stay on your regular medication routine or may ask you to stop. That will depend on the nature of the test.
“All along the way, we are happy to answer any questions patients or their family may have,” Brown says. “We will also leave them with contact numbers to reach get ahold of NeuLine or us if they have questions or concerns after we leave.”
What other equipment is used?
Patients are responsible for keeping a log sheet to document any events leading up to a seizure. They are instructed to press a button on the equipment they are wearing to mark where a seizure may occur.
The next step is to set up the rest of the monitoring equipment, consisting of a computer and camera. NeuLine Health also pairs EEGs with video monitoring for more accurate interpretation. In most cases, the equipment is set up in a bedroom or, sometimes, a living room. The equipment must stay in that spot for the duration of the study.
Patients undergo a 20-minute baseline EEG test while sitting or lying down. Once that’s complete, the tech will pack up and go.
What happens during my EEG study?
You can go about your daily life at home while hooked up to the EEG equipment. The exception is any physical exertion that would cause you to sweat because that can make the electrodes slide around or fall off.
Techs ask patients to spend as much time as possible in front of the video equipment, particularly when sleeping.
In the meantime, techs will monitor equipment twice a day remotely to ensure it’s functioning correctly and that none of the electrodes have fallen off. With the head covered in gauze, you may not know it if that happens.
“We ask patients to keep their phones handy so that we can get in touch with them if the equipment isn’t functioning properly,” Brown says. “We will go back and re-attach the loose wires or troubleshoot computer issues.”
What happens after my study?
This is the easy part! A tech will arrive at about the same time that the wires were placed three days ago.
The tech removes the gauze cap from your head and electrodes from the forehead and temple and checks for any potential skin irritation. For most people, that clears up quickly. If not, they will be instructed to see their primary care provider.
NeuLine Health is shifting to disposable electrodes, allowing the tech to clip the wires to detach the pouch’s Trackit unit. When the tech leaves, you can gently wash your hair to nudge the electrodes off and throw them away.
The tech will pack up the computer and camera and finalize the paperwork.
How do I get my EEG results?
When techs get home, they will upload the test data and clean the equipment for the next patient.
Another NeuLine Health tech will “prune” the data to mark events for a board-certified neurologist to review. A neurologist studies the data and creates a report for the provider who requested the study.
Patients can expect to receive test results from the provider who ordered the test in three to five business days.
For more information about NeuLine Health EEGs, read about us online or call (844) 212-5321.