An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures and records the brain’s electrical activity. By monitoring the wave patterns of brain activity, an EEG is able to identify irregular activity such as a seizure. While seizures can occur in children or adults, the neonatal period is the most likely time for a seizure to occur, particularly if a baby is already in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with another condition like neonatal encephalopathy, prematurity or a brain injury from birth. All newborns in the NICU at Riley at IU Health are monitored with 24-hour continuous EEG.
With 24-hour continuous EEG monitoring, trained professionals at Riley at IU Health will watch and evaluate your newborn's brain activity around the clock. There may be a neurologist or trained technician in the room monitoring your baby, or the results may be transmitted in real time via neurotelemetry to a different area of the hospital for a specialist to watch and evaluate. The monitoring continues until your baby is stable.
The benefit of 24-hour continuous EEG monitoring is that doctors watching in real time may take immediate action as soon as an abnormal result appears. With immediate treatment available, better outcomes are possible in the event of a seizure.
When your baby arrives in the neonatal intensive care unit, small metal discs called electrodes will be attached to his or her scalp. These electrodes monitor your newborn's brain activity and send the results to a computer. A trained specialist will watch the results to determine whether a seizure or other abnormal brain activity is occurring.
These electrodes will remain in place and monitoring will continue around the clock for as long as necessary. While they may look strange, you should not touch or adjust the electrodes because this may affect their readings. When your newborn's condition improves, the electrodes will be removed.