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How Is Epilepsy Diagnosed?
Diagnostic testing for epilepsy begins with an EEG (electroencephalogram). The doctor will also ask about any family history of epilepsy.
Diagnosing epilepsy can be like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. It can include information from many specialists and types of tests. Several other medical issues — fainting, hyperventilation, migraines, narcolepsy, and panic attacks — may seem like epilepsy.
Someone who has epilepsy may want to bring along someone who saw the seizure. The doctor will want to hear about the seizure, but also what happened before or afterward. Having someone else there can be helpful.
To diagnose epilepsy, the doctor will go over the symptoms and medical history. The doctor may order tests to figure out why someone is having seizures, such as:
- A neurological exam. A doctor tests a person’s behavior, motor skills, and mental capabilities to determine if they have epilepsy.
- Blood tests. A specialist may take a blood sample to check for signs of infections, genetic conditions, or other conditions that might cause seizures.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) is the most common test used to diagnose epilepsy. During this test, doctors attach electrodes to a person’s scalp, which records the brain’s electrical activity. If someone has epilepsy, it’s common to have changes in the normal pattern of brain waves, even while not having a seizure.
- The doctor may monitor a patient on video while conducting an EEG to record any seizures they experience, either awake or asleep. This can help determine the type of seizures.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses X-rays to reveal if anything else in the brain — such as tumors or bleeding — may be causing seizures.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create a detailed view of the brain. Like a CT scan, MRI can also show if any brain abnormalities could be causing seizures.
- Positron emission tomography (PET). During a PET scan, the doctor injects a small amount of low-dose radioactive material into the vein. This material helps doctors observe active areas in the brain for anything abnormal.
- Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT). This test is typically used to pinpoint the location where seizures arise in the brain. A small amount of low-dose radioactive material is injected into a vein. SPECT creates a 3D map of the brain’s blood flow.
PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICIAN FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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