Ambulatory EEG Test for Patients 65+
Clear Bridge Biomedics offers ambulatory electroencephalogram (EEG) tests for patients aged 65 years and older. When you order this test, we send the testing kit right to your doorstep. All you have to do is follow the instructions included in the kit:
- Attach the EEG to your scalp.
- Allow the equipment to record uninterrupted for 24, 48, or 72 hours (depending on what test you were prescribed).
- Pack up your EEG and return it by mail to our lab.
A team of medical experts will then examine the data collected by the ambulatory EEG and return your results as soon as possible.
What is an ambulatory EEG?
Let us break down the term, starting with “EEG”: an EEG is a method of recording the electrical activity produced by your brain using small electrodes attached to the scalp. Typical routine EEGs are performed in-office by a professional and last 20–40 minutes. Using an EEG, medical experts can spot abnormalities that occur before, during, or after a neurological event (such as a seizure). This information helps medical professionals treat patients who suffer from neurological conditions like epilepsy.
However, sometimes patients do not experience an event during an in-office EEG due to the limited timeframe or a lack of external factors that can trigger seizures (such as time of day, environment, or stress level). In those cases, no meaningful data is recorded, and the in-office EEG is unable to lead to an accurate diagnosis.
That is where the second part of our term, “ambulatory”, comes in: ambulatory EEGs are those that can be performed out-of-office, while the patient is at home. Patients can wear ambulatory EEGs for days at a time and while awake or sleeping, which may be needed to record seizure activity. The longer recording taken by the ambulatory EEG can provide more helpful data as patients are exposed to environmental triggers that are not present in-office. Therefore, ambulatory EEGs can provide the data necessary for a diagnosis when in-office EEGs are unable to do so.
Why should I get an ambulatory EEG?
There are a variety of reasons your doctor might recommend you get an ambulatory EEG, including the following situations:
- If you have an inconclusive in-office EEG.
- If you need to determine the cause of your seizures.
- If it is suspected you have seizures while sleeping.
- If you need to determine the type of seizure you experience.
- If your seizures are triggered by environmental factors that are not able to be reproduced in a clinical setting.
- If you continue to have seizures after trying several medications.
An ambulatory EEG can confirm or disprove your diagnosis, which is helpful for determining the most effective treatment. Suspected diseases or conditions that can be diagnosed or evaluated using an ambulatory EEG include epilepsy, silent seizures, brain damage from a head injury, dizziness, headaches, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stroke, sleep disorders, and brain tumors.
What will happen during my ambulatory EEG?
An ambulatory EEG makes a recording of your brain’s activity over a 24–72 hour period, depending on which test you have been prescribed. You will follow the instructions included in your testing kit to attach the electrodes and wires to your scalp. Then, you will connect the wires to a recorder that is slightly larger than a portable cassette player, which can be worn on your waist. You may run the wires underneath or outside your shirt and cover the electrodes on your head with a cap, scarf, or gauze dressing. Once you have the ambulatory EEG set up, then you can go about your normal routine for the duration of your test. However, there are certain activities you should avoid:
- Since the device is not water resistant, you should refrain from showering, swimming, washing your face, or otherwise getting your EEG wet.
- Scratching your head and chewing gum or tobacco can also interfere with your recording and should be avoided.
During the test, it is advised you keep a log of what you do during the day, and record any seizures or other symptoms you experience. This will help our medical professionals analyze the data they receive from your EEG once you return it. After your testing period is over, you can follow the instructions included in your Clear Bridge Biomedics Ambulatory EEG kit to remove the electrodes from your scalp, repackage your EEG, and mail it back to our lab for evaluation. Once your results are analyzed, Clear Bridge will send them back to you for interpretation and discussion with your primary care provider.
How do I prepare for an ambulatory EEG?
Here is a list of dos and don’ts to keep in mind the day before you start your EEG:
- Shampoo your hair the night before. Do not use hair products such as conditioners, hairspray, or styling creams or gels, as these can prevent the electrodes from sticking to your scalp.
- Remove all hair pieces like weaves, and do not arrange your hair in tight braids or cornrows.
- Wear a button-down or zip-up shirt since you will not be able to pull anything over your head once the electrodes are attached to your scalp.
- Go about your typical daily routine leading up to the test, including taking your prescription medications and getting your usual amount of sleep.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How do I sleep with an ambulatory EEG?
- You want to sleep in a cool place so as to prevent sweating and getting your ambulatory EEG wet.
- Securely wrapping your head with a scarf or gauze dressing will help the wires and electrodes stay secure and keep them from getting tangled. You want to make sure your head wrap is not too tight but not too loose.
- Keep the wires neatly bundled up and over your pillow, above your head.
- It may be helpful to elevate your head with soft pillows. Another option is to sleep in a comfortable recliner if you are unable to get comfortable in bed.
Can I eat?
- You can eat during your usual meal times, but avoid chewing gum, as that can interfere with your data.
What can I drink?
- You can drink water, juice, milk, and decaf tea or coffee. You should avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
Can an ambulatory EEG cause a seizure?
- Ambulatory EEGs do not cause seizures—they only help detect them.
Can I smoke while wearing an ambulatory EEG?
- You will receive more accurate results if you refrain from smoking or vaping. Chewing tobacco will also interfere with your results and should therefore be avoided.
Can I use headphones or earphones?
- Headphones should be avoided since they go over your head and can hamper the electrodes and wires. But you may wear earphones since they stay out of the way.
Can I wear jewelry?
- You can wear jewelry as long as it is not on your head. You may want to avoid wearing large earrings to make sure they do not get tangled with the wires.