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How is epilepsy (seizure disorder) diagnosed?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

In order to diagnose your seizure disorder, also known as epilepsy, your doctor will consider your symptoms, review your medical history, and conduct a neurological exam. The neurological exam will allow your doctor to evaluate your intellectual functioning, motor skills, and behavior. Your doctor might also ask you to undergo further tests, such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) that measures your brain activity or an imaging scan of the brain. An EEG involves placing electrodes on your scalp that measure the patterns of your brain waves. This test is most valuable if it is performed within 24 hours of your first seizure. Imaging scans of the brain can reveal problems in the structure of the brain, and some kinds of imaging scans can also show brain activity. When diagnosing some patients, particularly children, doctors will often order a blood test to check for illnesses and disorders that could cause seizures.

To diagnose epilepsy, also called seizure disorder, a doctor will arrange some tests. One test for diagnosing epilepsy is an electroencephalogram (EEG). In an EEG, lots of small sensors are placed on the person's head. The sensors pick up the electrical activity inside the brain and turn it into waves. The doctor will read the waves and be able to tell what kind of electrical activity is going on inside the brain. People might also have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of their brain. This is when the person goes inside an MRI scanner to have a picture taken of the inside of the brain. These tests can help the doctor to find out which kind of epilepsy a person has, and which medicines will work best.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.