The nervous system is an amazing and complex part of the human body and the onset of seizures can have a tremendous impact on your life. At Ascension Saint Thomas, our team of specially trained technologists, nursing staff and physicians partner closely with you and your family to diagnose seizures and identify a personalized treatment plan. To learn more about epilepsy and seizures, click here.
Why are patients referred to an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)?
A person might be referred to an Epilepsy Center or Epilepsy Monitoring Unit because:
- Seizure events occurring for unknown reasons
- Failure of standard treatments
- New or unusual events
- Safety during medication withdraw
- Evaluation for epilepsy surgery
The Epilepsy Monitoring Units at Saint Thomas West Hospital and Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital are modern inpatient units designed to evaluate, diagnose, and treat epilepsy. They are overseen by board certified neurologists trained in epilepsy and equipped with digital long term video EEG monitoring systems for 24-hour correlation of patients’ electrical brain activity and symptoms.
Contact the Neurodiagnostic Lab by calling 615-222-6278 or 615-222-6298.
How should I prepare for a stay in an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit?
- Patients should shampoo hair and not apply any conditioner, gels, mousse, or hair spray following shampooing of the hair.
- Bring loose fitting clothing to wear during the stay. Tops should be button down, not pull over.
- You can bring extra clothing to change into and personal care items from home.
- Bring all medications you are currently taking.
- If you require CPAP or BiPAP please plan on bringing you equipment from home.
- It is advised to arrange for a family member or friend to stay with you during your stay in the EMU.
- Bring books to read or things to do. If there is something that triggers an event, bring that as well.
What to expect during my stay at the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit?
- You will be admitted to a private room with a private bathroom.
- The length of stay will vary, but plan on a 3-5 day duration.
- EEG electrodes will be affixed to the your scalp to record your electrical brain activity during your entire stay.
- You will be able to get up and move around the room, but are required to stay in the room during your entire stay.
- You will not be able to wash your hair while the electrodes are attached but can wash at the sink or use a provided wash basin.
- Your electrical brain activity, video, and audio will be recorded 24 hours a day. There will be an event button that you or the person staying with you will be instructed to press when you experience an event.
It can be challenging to know if an event is an epileptic seizure. Passing out or fainting, forgetfulness, involuntary movements, or strange sensations, may or may not be epileptic seizures. Physicians use a test known as an Electroencephalogram, or EEG, to determine if a patient has increased signals in his or her brain associated with epileptic seizures.
Routine EEGs are completed at a doctor’s office or hospital. They take approximately one hour, total -- beginning with 20 - 30 minutes to attach the patches to the head, followed by an additional 30 minutes to record the electrical pulses from the brain.
If a routine EEG does not provide enough information, patients may need a continuous video EEG monitoring study. This is a scheduled procedure completed in the hospital where the EEG is placed on the head in order to record the event of questionThis is called an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) or Long-Term Monitoring (LTM) stay.