What You Need to Know About Your Child's Upcoming EEG
If you'd like to download a PDF version of this information, please open our EEG pediatric brochure.
What is an EEG?
An EEG (electro-en-ceph-alo-gram) is a test that gives information about the health and functioning of the brain. Special soft padded wires, called electrodes, are placed on the scalp. The electrodes will pick up impulses in the brain. These impulses create patterns that are mapped onto a computer screen. Your child's doctor looks at the patterns to make a diagnosis.
To help ease any concerns you or your child may have about this exam, please know that an EEG:
- Does not hurt
- Does not read your mind
- Does not determine whether you are emotionally or mentally ill
- Does not give you electric shocks
- Is not a treatment
- Does not cure a condition
Preparing your child for the EEG
This is a test that requires your child to lie still and quiet for about an hour and a half. We ask that you do the following to prepare him or her for the EEG:
- Stay up two hours later than usual the night before.
- Get up two hours earlier on the day of the EEG.
- Feed your child before the test. He or she will not be able to eat or drink anything during the test.
- Wash your child's hair the night before the EEG. Clean hair will make it easier to remove the electrodes after the test is done. Do not use hair products like hair spray, mousse, or gel.
- Have your child go to the bathroom before the test.
Helpful tips list
- Dress your child comfortably on the day of the test.
- If your child has a favorite blanket or special stuffed animal, bring it with you.
- Arrange for care of your other children. They will not be allowed in the testing area, and we do not have child care providers available.
- Please do not bring any toys or games that involve movement or interaction into the testing area.
- It is best to not plan other commitments around the time of the EEG test. Most tests take about an hour and half, but they can take longer. The test cannot be rushed.
- If you live far away, please consider staying at David's House the night before the test. It can be hard to keep a child awake during a long drive. David's House is across from the hospital. The fee is $20 per night, which can be waived if necessary. For more information about David's House, call (603) 643-2298 or visit the David's House website.
What happens on the day of your child's EEG
- Arriving for your child's appointment
On the appointment date, you and your child will go to Reception 3C to sign in. Then, you and your child will be asked to go to the EEG waiting area. You will be taken to our EEG room where a technician will ask for some information about your child’s medical history as well as the medications that he or she is taking. You may have already given your physician this information. However, the technician will still need to review this information with you.
- The EEG room
One of our technicians will lead you and your child into a small room for the exam. This arrangement is set up to give your child a quiet, restful space to relax. The technician has been specially trained for this work and will be happy to answer any questions you or your child has about the procedure itself, or about the machine.
- Getting your child ready for the EEG
The technician will ask your child to lay down on a bed and will measure his or her head with a soft tape measure to make marks with a special crayon of where the electrodes will be placed. The technician will apply the electrodes on the marked spots on your child's scalp using a small amount of paste. This paste will prevent the natural oils of his or her hair from interfering with the exam. During this time, it may be helpful for you to talk with your child to comfort and keep him or her calm. Once the electrodes are in place, we will ask your child to lie back and relax.
- The exam begins
When the exam begins, the lights in the room will be dimmed. The technician will be at the controls of the EEG machine conducting the exam. All your child has to do is relax and try to sleep. We ask that all talking stop at this point because it could affect the test results. If your child is having a hard time not talking with you during the test, the EEG technician may ask you to leave the testing area. You can take a walk or get something to eat or drink. We have beepers available to let you know as soon as the testing is done.
- Special requests during the exam
The technician may ask your child to answer questions during the exam to record his or her brain waves. Your child's ability to answer questions is a part of the testing process. Please allow your child to answer questions asked by the technician rather than answering for them.
- After the exam
After the test is finished, the technician will remove the electrodes. Your child's head will be cleaned with a wet cloth to get as much of the paste off as possible. A comb will be provided for grooming afterwards. You will need to shampoo your child's hair when you return home.
The technician will not be able to share the results of your child's exam with you. Your physician will talk with you about the results at your next appointment and what he or she recommends for next steps in your child's care.
Please do not hesitate to call the Child Life Program office if you have any questions at (603) 650-8831.
If you need to cancel or reschedule your child's EEG appointment, please contact Pediatric Neurology at (603) 653-9669 or (603) 653-9668.