Things you might need to know

Before any operation for epilepsy can be performed, there has to be a period of careful testing and evaluation.

These tests are done to make sure the surgery has a good chance of being successful and won't affect any of the important functions of the brain.

Most of the tests are used to pinpoint the area of the brain where seizures begin or to locate other areas, like speech and memory, that have to be avoided.

How many tests have to be done depends on the kind of operation that is being planned and how much information each test produces.

The following tests are most often used before a decision to operate is made:

Electroencephalography (EEG) : An electroencephalogram is a non-invasive, diagnostic test which records electrical activity on the surface of the brain, and can identify the location of the abnormally firing neurons. More Info

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) :Scans take pictures of the inside of the brain. MRI scans may show tumors, abnormal blood vessels, cysts, and areas of brain cell loss or other brain damage. More Info

Video EEG :In video-EEG, you are videotaped at the same time as your EEG is recorded. The recording is carried out for a long period of time, often several days. The doctor usually views the video and EEG images side by side on a split screen. In this way the doctor can see precisely how your behavior during seizures is related to the electrical activity in your brain. More Info

Neurological Exam :A neurological examination looks at how well your brain and the rest of your nervous system are functioning. Every time your doctor taps your knee with a hammer to see if your foot jumps, that's part of a neurological exam. More Info

Wada Test :The Wada test, also known as the Intracarotid Amobarbital Procedure (IAP), combines neuroimaging and neuropsychological testing methods to examine memory and language functions. It is used to evaluate patients being considered for epilepsy surgery, by examining the independent functions of the brain. More Info

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) :may be used in certain cases to help identify where seizures are taking place. PET measures how intensely different parts of the brain use up glucose, oxygen, or other substances. More Info

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) :Individuals with epilepsy often have changes in blood flow to specific areas of the brain when a seizure begins. The SPECT measures blood flow between seizures and during seizures. The scans are then compared to identify the changes in blood flow in specific areas of the brain, thus identifying where seizures originate.