EEGs ‘should be more widely utilised in seizure diagnosis and care’

Posted May 20 2014 in Other treatments

New research has demonstrated the potentially key role that electroencephalograms (EEGs) can play in the effective diagnosis and treatment of seizures.

Carried out by the University of Cincinnati, the study looked at the use of EEGs to diagnose status epilepticus in emergency care settings in order to establish whether or not these types of scans are generally utilised effectively.

Status epilepticus is a life-threatening condition in which the brain remains in a state of persistent seizure for more than five minutes. Due to how dangerous it can be, it is important that doctors are able to determine immediately which patients need urgent treatment for this issue.

To better understand how EEGs are used in patients suspected of experiencing seizures, the research team conducted a retrospective chart review of all adult patients who attended the emergency department (ED) of a selected urban tertiary care hospital with seizures or suspected status epilepticus, and who received an EEG within 24 hours of admission.

It was found that more than one-quarter of patients with suspected seizures had an EEG performed in the emergency care setting, with only six per cent of the EEGs resulting in an actual seizure diagnosis.

Moreover, only two per cent of EEGs performed after a patient was admitted to the hospital were positive, suggesting these scans can be a valuable means of filtering out those who do not necessarily require hospital treatment, thereby lessening the burden on healthcare systems.

Dr William Knight, assistant professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati, said: “We showed that overall, a very small proportion of seizure patients in the ED end up with status epilepticus. We also concluded that there may be future opportunities to utilise ED observation units to obtain EEGs in seizure patients – which may ultimately reduce hospital and/or intensive care unit admissions.”

NHS guidance emphasises the fact that people experiencing seizures do not need to be taken to hospital in many cases. It recommends that ambulances should only be called out if the seizure lasts more than five minutes, if it is the patient’s first seizure or if they do not regain full consciousness afterwards.

Posted by Anne Brown

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