Electroencephalogram (EEG)

What to Expect When Your Child Needs an EEG

Your child’s physician has ordered a test to help determine the presence of seizures or to identify the type of seizures your child experiences. An Electroencephalogram (EEG) can also determine if other neurologic problems exist. An EEG records and prints the patterns of electrical activity in different areas of the brain, providing doctors with detailed information about your child’s brain.

The EEG will be interpreted by a Mary Bridge Pediatric Neurologist. The results will be forwarded to the provider who ordered the test for your child.

Schedule an EEG Test

Call the Mary Bridge END/EEG Department at 253-403-3347 to schedule your child’s EEG. EEGs are performed at the END/EEG Labs at the Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center in Tacoma, and for your convenience, on a limited basis at our Covington, Olympia and Puyallup clinic locations.

Inform the scheduler of any special needs your child has that may require extra assistance. Please give 48 hours advance notice if you must cancel your appointment. Please make arrangements to leave other children who are not being tested at home.

Insurance Authorization

This EEG test typically requires prior authorization from your insurance provider. We cannot guarantee that the test or procedure will be approved. It is your responsibility to know what your benefits are and what you may be responsible for. Please contact your ordering provider for further assistance or questions regarding insurance approvals. Please bring your insurance card or medical coupon to the test.

Preparing for an EEG

Please follow these special instructions carefully to properly prepare your child for the EEG so that complete and accurate results can be obtained.

  • The night before the test, wash your child’s hair with regular shampoo. Do not use any conditioners, gels, hair products or lotions on the skin. Dry your child’s hair and leave it loose.
  • There is no need to cut your child’s hair for this test, especially do not “buzz cut."
  • Continue giving your child all medications prescribed by your child’s doctor, unless instructed otherwise.
  • Your child should eat a regular meal before arriving, but do not feed your child any chocolate, caffeine or “energy” drinks 24 hours before the test.
  • If you are bottle or breast feeding, the last feeding should be at least two hours before the EEG.
  • An EEG cannot be performed on children who currently have open wounds to the scalp; head lice or nits; or skin disorders, including chicken pox. If any of these conditions occur, please call the EEG lab at 253-403-3347 to reschedule your child’s appointment.
  • Some children have experienced skin reactions to the products that are used to apply the EEG electrodes. Please alert the EEG technician if your child has known skin sensitivities or develops a skin reaction during or after the test.

Sleep Instructions

A successful EEG includes monitoring your child while both awake and sleeping. To achieve sleep, your child must be sleep deprived prior to the test. Please follow the instructions below, as they apply to your child’s age:

0 - 11 months: Normal bedtime the night before. Wake child at 5am day of test. Keep awake until you arrive with no naps or dozing. Bring bottle, blanket and favorite toy.

1 - 3 years: Bedtime two hours later than normal the night before. Wake child two hours earlier than normal day of test. Keep awake until you arrive with no naps or dozing. Bring bottle, blanket and favorite toy.

4 years and older: Keep your child awake until midnight the night before. Wake child at 4am day of test. Keep awake until you arrive with no naps or dozing. If your child uses a comfort item to fall asleep, please bring it with you to the appointment.

Please make sure your child stays awake during the car ride. You may want to plan activities and have extra help if needed so that your child does not fall asleep on the way. Falling asleep in the car may result in having to reschedule your child’s appointment.

What Will Happen During the EEG

The EEG technician will review your child’s medical history and current concerns with you. The child’s head is measured and the skin is cleaned and prepared. Marks are made to the scalp with a washable grease-like pen. The EEG technician will then tape or paste special sensors to your child’s scalp. These sensors are attached by tiny wires to a computer. The computer records electrical activity or brain wave patterns from different areas of the brain. There are several types of brain waves. The brain waves are recorded as wavy lines on a computer screen.

Your child will be asked to lie quietly on a comfortable bed for the duration of the test. A strobe-like light may be flashed at different speeds above the child’s head. Your child may be asked to breathe deeply and rapidly for a brief period. Your child will be asked to go to sleep. A successful EEG includes recording brain waves during sleep.

The EEG test does not hurt and at no time is electrical current put into the body. The EEG recording is performed by a trained EEG technologist. The test will last approximately one and one half hours and will provide 30-40 minutes of actual brain wave recordings. You will be asked to stay with your child for the entire test.

Reviewing the Results

EEG results are generally available within one week. Your child’s results will be forwarded to the provider who ordered the test for your child. Be sure to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s care or treatment.

If your child is not a current patient at the Mary Bridge Neurology Clinic, please contact the provider who ordered the test to obtain results. The Neurology Clinic is not able to release the results directly to you.

If your child is a current patient at the Mary Bridge Neurology Clinic, you will receive the results by phone, mail or during your child’s next clinic visit. You are welcome to call the Mary Bridge Neurology Clinic at 253-792-6630 and ask to speak with a nurse if you have not received your child’s results within two weeks.

Location and Parking

 Mary Bridge Children's Hospital
317 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Tacoma, WA 98405

On the day of the CT scan, you may park for free in the Baker Center Parking Garage. Please be sure to bring your parking ticket in with you to the appointment for validation.

Valet Parking is available for $3.00 at the main hospital entrance on Martin Luther King Jr Way or the Philip Pavilion entrance on S 5th Street.