The epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a specialized area equipped with advanced tools used to study your brain waves and seizure activity. Here, we can diagnose seizures and epilepsy.
Epilepsy monitoring is vital to the accurate diagnosis of uncontrolled seizures and treatment recommendations. Our 12-bed unit allows you to be tested under the supervision of specialized technicians and nurses in a safe and controlled environment.
One of the largest epilepsy monitoring centers in the St. Louis region, the Barnes-Jewish EMU sees a high volume of patients — over 30 each month. Each patient typically stays about a week.
Testing at Our Epilepsy Monitoring Unit
If you're seeking an epilepsy diagnosis or have already been diagnosed, the first step at Barnes-Jewish is to monitor your seizures at our EMU, using 24-hour video EEG.
Admission to our EMU allows our specialists to change medication in a safer environment, as opposed to testing a new medication at home. Each patient has a private room with a bed, wireless internet access and extra space for a caregiver, spouse or family member.
Video EEG records your physical activity, including what happens before, during and after a seizure. Simultaneously with the video recording, the EEG records brain activity, allowing physicians to pinpoint the type of seizure and precisely locate the source. If a seizure goes too long, we provide medication to stop it.
Epilepsy monitoring can take anywhere from 24 hours to several days or a week. Physicians, EEG technologists, nurses and EMU technicians monitor your activity to identify when seizures begin and to keep patients safe during the seizures.
Our neurology nurses are trained in not only epilepsy treatment, but how to monitor and evaluate you during a seizure. While monitoring your seizure, they document information that tells us why you're having your seizure and how the seizure affects your brain.
In addition, we staff certified neurodiagnostic technicians who are trained and certified EEG technicians.
Next Steps After Seizure & Epilepsy Tests
After video EEG monitoring, we interpret the results and use them to guide treatment or further diagnostic tests. Sometimes, video EEG studies reveal that symptoms are not related to epilepsy, so we treat 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 and make the appropriate treatment recommendation.
For patients with epileptic seizures that do not respond to medication treatment, further recommendations could include:
In cases where epilepsy surgery is a treatment option, your history and testing is reviewed in a weekly conference that includes staff of the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, as well as the treating neurology and neurosurgery physicians. Ten percent of our EMU patients are candidates for surgery.
Our Comprehensive Epilepsy Center 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.
To make an appointment with a Washington University epileptologist, neurologist or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.