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Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock (CHad)
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What You Need to Know About Your Child's Upcoming EEG

EEG room

What is an EEG?

An EEG (electroencephalogram) 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 activity in the brain. This activity creates patterns that can be seen on a computer screen. Your child's doctor analyzes these patterns.

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. Avoid using hair products.
  • Have your child go to the bathroom before the test.

Helpful tips

  • Dress your child comfortably on the day of the test.
  • Bring a favorite blanket or special stuffed animal with you.
  • Arrange care of your other children. Siblings are not allowed in the testing area, and we do not have childcare providers available.
  • Please do not bring any toys or games that involve movement or interaction into the testing area.
  • If you live far away, consider staying at David's House the night before the test, as it can be difficult to keep a child awake during a long drive. 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

Measuring and marking for placement of electrodes

Measuring and marking for placement of electrodes

An electrode being put in place

An electrode being put in place

All electrodes in place

All electrodes in place

  1. Arriving for your child's appointment

    On the appointment date, you and your child will go to Reception 3C to sign in.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. He or she will then make marks with a special crayon to show 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.
  4. 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. Your child's role is to relax and try to sleep. We ask that all talking stop at this point, to promote quiet relaxation. 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. We have pagers available to let you know as soon as the testing is done.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 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 or feel your child will need procedural support.
  • If you need to cancel or reschedule your child's EEG appointment, please contact Pediatric Neurology.
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