British Society for Clinical Neurophysiology
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My Videotelemetry EEG Investigation
What is videotelemetry?
Videotelemetry is a special type of EEG (brainwave) investigation. The brainwaves are recorded usually for several days along with a video using a camera. Therefore this is a much longer recording than a standard EEG.
Videotelemetry can only be performed as an in-patient as it requires specialised equipment and specially trained staff usually in a purpose-built unit.
The advantage of videotelemetry is that if you have an attack then the brainwaves and video are recorded together. This can often be very helpful with coming to a diagnosis or further treatment.
Why am I having this investigation?
Although there are a number of reasons why you may be referred for videotelemetry these fall into two main groups. Firstly there are a group of patients with particular types of epilepsy who have not responded to many different anti-epileptic medicines and who are being considered for brain surgery to control their seizures If a patient is being considered for epilepsy surgery then videotelemetry is important for recording typical seizures and working out where the abnormal seizure activity in the brain starts. This is then compared with radiological brain scans such as MRI to help decide if epilepsy surgery is feasible. Clearly this is a very specialised area and if you are being considered for epilepsy surgery your doctor will be able to discuss things in more detail.
Secondly there are some patients who are having attacks but it is difficult to work out from their description whether these are due to epilepsy or perhaps some other cause such as stress-related attacks. In this group of patients the only way of getting the right diagnosis may be to record an event with videotelemetry. Once again the video and brain waves recorded together are often very helpful.
Are there things that I will not be able to do when having the investigation?
You will be restricted to a small area on the ward during your test. This may be in a dedicated room. It is important that you are “on camera” for as much of yourstay as possible so that attacks are not missed.
Apart from this there are usually few restrictions. It is sometimes a bit uncomfortable trying to sleep with the electrodes on your head all the time and you will not be able to wash your hair. In some cases you will be sleep deprived ie asked to stay awake for a night or two to provoke attacks.
I am embarrassed about being recorded on camera and other people seeing my attacks.
We take issues regarding your privacy extremely seriously and will not show your videos to anyone who is not authorised to look at it. We treat the videos as part of your confidential medical record. We would always ask your consent before showing videos at clinical meetings or for teaching purposes such as with medical students.
Doctors and other staff who are involved with videotelemetry are used to looking at different types of attacks. We appreciate that this can sometimes be embarrassing for patients but our aim is to try to help the patient by reaching the right diagnosis.
What happens after the investigation?
There is a lot of information to look at. Therefore it can take several weeks fro the clinical neurophysiologist to look at it properly. Usually the clinical neurophysiologist will send a report to the doctor who sent you for the test who will in turn let you know about the results.