Epilepsy Sparks

Brain Scans: EEGs and What They Are!

Brain Scans: EEGs and What They Are!

There are so many types of brain scans out there now - which is great (because it means that we/our Epileptologists/Neurologists have more choice) but it also makes things a tad confusing for the majority of us because:

-       Most of us aren't doctors ourselves, and;

-       They tend to have really long names!!

So, every week for the next month we will provide brief explanations of what these scans are and provide links to sources which can provide you with even further information should you wish to look further into things.

Who has an EEG1?

EEGs can be for many reasons but most frequently are if a neurologist:

-       Thinks that you might have epilepsy

-       Needs to know more about your epilepsy

-       Isn’t sure if your seizures are epileptic

-       Is considering you for epilepsy surgery

-       Is considering withdrawing your Anti-Epileptic Drug(s)2

EEG stands for:


What information does an EEG provide?

It provides information about the electrical activity happening in some of your brain at the time that you are having the test.

What happens?

You sit on a chair/bed (all comfy hopefully!) and a Neurophysiologist3 will attach electrodes to your scalp.

Does it hurt? 

It can feel a bit scratchy when they attach and detach the pads sometimes.

How long does it take?

Generally attaching the pads takes 40minutes.

How long do I have to have them on for?

Routine recordings usually last about 20mins whilst in Outpatients.

Do I have to stay in the hospital?

-       Not if you are having a routine recording.

-       Sometimes if you need a longer recording you can go home with a pack attached to your wires and this is called an Ambulatory EEG4 (which is nothing to do with an ambulance!); we will be providing more information on this next week!

-       Sometimes patients are required to have Video Telemetry5 (we will explain more about this later this month); where they have an EEG whilst being videoed at the same time!

What happens afterwards?

You might need to wash your hair a LOT!! There are often remains of the special paste/glue left in your hair. Your neurologist should provide you with information regarding the EEG at your next appointment.

Me having an Ambulatory EEG!

What if I don’t have a seizure during the scan?

Don’t worry. This doesn’t prove that you do not have epilepsy or seizures at other times. An EEG test can also only provide information of the electrical activity in your brain to a certain depth. Your neurologist may request other tests.


I hope that this helps!!

For more information on EEGs, check out Epilepsy Action's website:


Torie Robinson

International Public Speaker & Consultant - Epilepsy, Mental Health, Diversity & Inclusion

Epilepsy Sparks CEO - featured on BBC, HuffPost, Sky News & More.

Does your company require an inspiring speech or some consultancy on epilepsy, mental health, and diversity & inclusion? Contact: torie@epilepsysparks.com




1.       EEGs, Epilepsy Action: https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/diagnosis/eeg-electroencephalogram

2.       Anti-Epileptic Drugs, Epilepsy Society: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/antiepileptic-drugs#.XDv7AFz7SUk

3.       Neurophysiologist, NHS: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/healthcare-science/roles-healthcare-science/physiological-sciences/neurophysiology

4.       Ambulatory EEGs, Epilepsy Foundation: https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/diagnosis/eeg/ambulatory-eeg

5.       Video Telemetry, Epilepsy Action: https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/diagnosis/eeg-electroencephalogram