The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a specialized area equipped with computer-based tools used to study a patient’s brain wave and seizure activity. Epilepsy monitoring is vital to the accurate diagnosis of uncontrolled seizures and in preparation for epilepsy surgery. Our eight-bed unit allows patients to be tested under the supervision of specialized technicians and nurses, creating a safe and controlled environment for each patient.
What Is an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit?
The epilepsy monitoring unit is where continuous video EEGs are performed. The video records the patient’s physical activity, including seizures and what happens in the moments before and after seizure. Simultaneously with the video recording, the EEG records brain activity, allowing physicians to pinpoint the type of seizure that is occurring and precisely locate the source.
The epilepsy monitoring unit is located on an inpatient floor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Each patient has a private room with a bed, wireless Internet access and extra space for a caregiver, spouse or family member. Epilepsy monitoring can take anywhere from 24 hours to several days or a week. During that time, physicians, EEG technologists, nurses and EMU technicians will be monitoring each patient’s activity to identify when seizures begin and to keep patients safe and cared for as the seizures are occurring.
What Happens After Testing?
After video EEG telemetry monitoring, the results are interpreted and used to guide treatment or further diagnostic tests. Sometimes, video EEG studies reveal that symptoms are not related to epilepsy, and recommendations include appropriate follow-up and treatment of the underlying cause of the seizures. If testing reveals the symptoms are related to epileptic seizures, then our physicians look at the type of epileptic seizures that are occurring and make the appropriate treatment recommendation.
For patients with epileptic seizures that do not respond to medication treatment, further recommendations could include specific neuroimaging tests, such as MRI, positron emission tomography (PET), or single emission photon computed tomography (SPECT), or testing for epilepsy-related memory changes with neuropsychological testing. In cases where epilepsy surgery is a treatment option, the patient's history and testing is reviewed in a weekly conference that includes the staff of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center as well as the treating neurology and neurosurgery physicians.
The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is the largest in the region, and has received specific Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) certification for treatment of epilepsy. The center is also a part of the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) and carries the highest level (level 4) of certification.
For a referral to a Washington University neurologist or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call