Electroencephalogram (EEG) Testing

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures the electrical activity in the brain, called brain waves. An EEG measures brain waves through small button electrodes that are placed on your child's scalp.

EEG testing is the main way we diagnose epilepsy, but it may also be used to diagnose other brain disorders.

  • Appointments

    EEGs can be scheduled in conjunction with your Neurology appointment or separately. To contact the EEG Lab at Main Campus, please call 215-590-2960. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Routine EEG appointments are offered at all of our satellite locations.

    Please see special instructions for the following tests:

  • What to expect at your routine EEG appointment

    Please remember to:

    • Bring your insurance card
    • If your insurance plan requires, bring your referral and co-pay
    • Arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment to check-in (if you are more than 15 minutes late for your appointment, you may be asked to reschedule)
  • Directions, parking and arrival

    If your appointment is at the Wood Building, please park in the Wood Center Garage located off of Civic Center Boulevard. A security officer will be at the parking garage entrance if you have any questions. Take the Wood Center elevators to the 6th floor and follow the signs to The EEG Department, Room 6349.

    Please bring your parking ticket with you so it can be validated after your appointment. Our phone number is 215-590-2960. Our department business hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Checking in

    When you get to the outpatient reception area, check in with the desk staff. At check-in you will sign in your child’s name and then proceed to the EEG department to also notify the EEG staff that you have arrived.

    You will then can take a seat in the waiting area for the outpatient staff to call your child’s name. This will begin the registration process. Once registration is completed, you will be handed papers to bring to the EEG lab.

  • Before the EEG

    Your child’s hair and head must be clean. Hair needs to be washed the night before the test. Do not use hair spray, oils, cream rinse or gel after your child’s hair has been washed. The child can eat before the test, though no caffeinated food and beverages, such as chocolate, soda, tea, coffee, can be consumed during the 24 hours before the scheduled time of the test.

    It can be helpful if your child falls asleep during the study. If your child still takes naps, please schedule the EEG appointment during nap time. Please do not let him/her take a nap that day or during the ride to the hospital.

    If your child no longer takes naps, it would be helpful if you wake your child up 1 to 2 hours earlier that morning. Also, please bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal, blanket and an extra bottle to help comfort him/her during the study.

    Upon completion of the study, his or her hair may be damp (from removing the electrodes) so you may want to bring a hat in the winter months.

  • During the EEG

    The test can take from 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours depending upon cooperation of the child and type of study ordered. You may stay with your child during the procedure.

    The EEG technologist will make markings with a red (washable) skin crayon on your child’s scalp. Then he will clean the red areas and place small suction cups (electrodes) with thin, colorful wires on the marked spots. A special paste is used to keep the suction cups in place.

    The EEG test is not painful. During the recording, sometimes special procedures are done. Older children may be instructed to breathe deeply through their mouths for 2 to 3 minutes and also to open and close their eyes. Your child will have fun looking at a flashing strobe light during the recording.

    Your child might be fearful about the EEG. Our EEG technologists know how to handle children during the test.

    If they ask you to remain in the waiting room while the test is in progress, it is because many children are inclined to be more cooperative without their parents present thus a better recording is obtained.

    The EEG technologist has been specially trained for this work and will be pleased to answer any questions you may have about the procedure itself, or even about the machine. Everyone in the EEG lab will do everything possible to comfort you and your child during your visit to CHOP.

  • Checking out of EEG

    If your child is seeing the Neurologist after your EEG appointment, please go down the hall to the Neurology Department and check in at the front desk. You will receive the EEG results at this visit.

    If your child is not seeing a neurologist, your child’s EEG results will be faxed to the referring physician that you gave at the time the appointment was made. If you would like an additional doctor to receive the results, please stop at the EEG desk and provide that information to the staff.