Electroencephalogram (EEG)

An EEG or electroencephalogram (e-lek-tro-en-sef-ah-lo-gram) is a recording of the electrical activity of the brain.

  • Explain the test to your child.
  • Shampoo your child's hair well the night before the test. Do not use any hair spray, oil or mousse. Remove any hair extensions, pieces or weaves.
  • Your child may eat and drink as usual and should take any prescribed medications.
  • You may bring your child's favorite toy and / or security item such as a blanket.

For a sleep-deprived EEG, put your child to bed at their normal time. Then, wake your child at the following suggested times: 

    • Under 3 years old: awaken at 4 am
    • 3-11 years old: awaken at 2 am
    • 12 years and older: awaken at 12 am

We will show your child what will happen.  Electrodes (referred to as buttons, with wires) are placed on areas of the child's head with cream, after cleaning each area with a cotton tip.

Your child will need to lie very still with eyes closed and try to relax. Some children have difficulty lying still for the electrode placement. When this happens, the child may be swaddled or placed on a papoose board during the electrode placement. After the electrode placement is finished, the parents may hold the child.  Other visitors can wait in the waiting room.

The electrodes pick up signals about how the brain is working. These messages are sent to a computer, which records the activity.

During part of the test, the technologist flashes a bright light in front of the child for 10 seconds approximately nine different times. We may ask your child to breathe deeply for 2-3 minutes during the test. 

After the test, the electrodes are removed and the hair and scalp are cleaned with a wet wash cloth. There will still be some cream that will need to be washed out at home. After the test, your child can resume normal activities. 

A neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the nervous system, will read the tracing. A report will be sent to the requesting doctor or clinic. Results from the test can take up to 5-7 business days.

Last Updated 12/2015