Diagnosis and Testing
At Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Network, we offer advanced diagnosis and testing capabilities for neurological disorders. Our team approach means your child receives a thorough assessment, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment.
We understand how stressful testing can be for children with neurological disorders. Our team includes child life and sedation services specialists to keep your child relaxed and comfortable.
EEG (electroencephalogram) is a painless procedure that measures brain activity. Doctors often use this test to diagnose epilepsy and other neurological conditions. We offer convenient EEG options, including outpatient testing at satellite locations and portable EEG equipment so your child can receive testing from the comfort of home.
During an EEG, the specialized EEG technologist will place small, flat metal discs called electrodes on your child’s scalp. Your child will need to rest quietly during the test, which usually takes 1 to 2 hours. Sometimes, children need longer monitoring for up to 24 hours. In these cases, your child’s doctor may recommend an inpatient stay or provide portable EEG equipment to take home.
Learn more about epilepsy services at Mary Bridge.
Our clinic offers neurodiagnostic testing, which are specialized tests for diagnosing brain and spinal cord conditions, as well as function in peripheral nerves and muscles. Common neurodiagnostic tests include EMG (electromyography) and NCS (nerve conduction study). These tests help identify the location and severity of nerve and muscle disorders.
EMG measures how your child’s muscles respond to stimulation. Your child’s neurologist will insert one or more small needles into the muscle, using a numbing cream to ensure a painless procedure. The test lasts about 30 minutes, during which time the specialist will ask your child to perform certain movements.
An NCS measures how fast an electrical signal travels through a nerve. A specialist will place a receiving electrode on your child’s skin, using a stimulating device to deliver a small electrical signal through the nerve. This test causes only minor discomfort, and can take as little as 15 minutes.
We are one of the few sleep centers in the state that caters to children. We also have one of the only pediatric neurologists nationwide who is also a sleep specialist.
If your child experiences symptoms of a sleep disorder, our clinic may perform tests that include:
- Actigraphy: Similar to a fitness tracker, an Actiwatch is a compact actigraphy device that tracks how much sleep your child is getting. Usually a child must wear the device for 10 days. This technology is not widely available at many facilities.
- Polysomnography: A sleep study, or polysomnography, monitors brain waves and other body functions to evaluate the quality of your child’s sleep.
- MLST (multiple latency sleep test): The MSLT helps diagnose narcolepsy by measuring how fast a person falls asleep.
During these tests, your child may need to stay overnight in the hospital or sleep center. We will make sure your child is comfortable during the night, and parents are able to stay nearby during the sleep study.
We are committed to involving families in the treatment process. Our team is here to make sure you and your child are comfortable. Learn more about our Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic.
CT (Computerized Tomography) Scan
A CT scan combines X-rays and computers to create detailed cross-section or sliced images of the body’s internal structures. During the procedure, your child will lie on a small table that slides through a large donut-shaped machine.
A CT scan lasts about 30 minutes, during which time your child will have to be still. Our sedation services team can help your child stay relaxed and calm during CT scans.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
An MRI uses radio waves and magnets to create detailed images of your child’s bones, organs and tissues. Your child will lie on a table that slides into a tunnel-shaped machine for the test.
It can be difficult for children to lie still, and the confined space may also cause distress. Our sedation services team is on hand with medicine to make your child feel drowsy or even fall asleep during the test.
An MRI takes approximately 40 minutes, possibly longer when a child requires sedation. We have technology available so your child can watch a movie during the MRI.
Hearing and Vision Screening
Our team provides comprehensive hearing and vision evaluations for developmental disabilities. We connect you with specialists so your child gets help early to improve function. Hearing and vision tests are easy and painless for children.
During a hearing test, the doctor can measure your child’s response to sound using a variety of methods. Specialists use equipment such as headphones, a tiny microphone placed in the inner ear and/or electrodes placed on your child’s head to measure hearing function.
In a vision screening, the doctor may briefly shine a light in your child’s eyes. For older children, specialists may use an eye chart or ask the child to look through lenses of special machines to detect vision problems.
Neurologists sometimes use a spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, to diagnose neuromuscular disorders, some headaches, multiple sclerosis (MS) and neurodegenerative disorders. During this procedure, the doctor inserts a needle into your child’s spine to take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding the spinal cord.
Our sedation services team can provide medication to help your child feel drowsy or fall asleep during the procedure. In most cases, your child won’t even be aware of the needle.
Your child’s doctor may order a blood test to rule out underlying conditions that can cause neurological symptoms. For certain neurological disorders, specialists also use genetic testing to pinpoint the disorder.
We numb your child’s skin before inserting a small needle, typically drawing blood from the arm. Child life specialists are on hand during blood draws to entertain and distract your child, and explain the procedure in child-friendly language.
For an evaluation, call us at 253-792-6630 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.