Neurodiagnostics is the allied health care profession that records, monitors, and analyzes nervous system function to promote the effective treatment of pathologic conditions. Technologists record electrical activity arising from the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, somatosensory or motor nerve systems using a variety of techniques and instruments. Technologists prepare data and documentation for interpretation by a physician. Considerable individual initiative, reasoning skill, and sound judgment are all expected of the neurodiagnostic technologist. The most common neurodiagnostic procedures are Electroencephalogram (EEG), Evoked Potential (EP), Polysomnogram (PSG), Nerve Conduction Study (NCS), Long Term Monitoring (LTM), and Intraoperative Neuromonitoring (IONM).
A Guide to Neurodiagnostic Testing
Qualified Neurodiagnostic Technologists
Are credentialed; Have met a minimum education and related educational and performance standards; Meet continuing education requirements; Perform within a code of ethics and defined scope of practice; Perform under the direction of clinical leadership or a physician; Are recognized by physicians, employers, the public, governmental agencies, payers and other health care professionals; Form a national society whose activities include advocating for the profession; and Contribute to the advancement of knowledge in neuroscience.
Electroencephalogram [EEG] – Reveals different brain patterns
The Electroencephalogram [EEG] is a recording of the on-going electrical activity of the brain. An EEG is used to assist in the diagnosis of epilepsy and a variety of neurological symptoms. These symptoms include common headaches, dizziness, seizure disorders, convulsions, changes in awareness, unexplained loss of consciousness, prolonged or unexplained coma, strokes, and degenerative brain disease. EEGs are also used to evaluate the effects of head trauma or the consequences of severe infectious disease. EEG information can help doctors determine medical and surgical treatment of epilepsy. Patients having surgery on arteries in the neck or around the heart often have EEG monitoring performed during the procedure, providing the surgeon with additional information about brain function and assuring surgeons that the brain receives enough oxygen. EEGs also are used in determining causes for staring spells or inattentiveness in children.
In conducting an EEG, highly sensitive monitoring equipment records the activity through electrodes that are placed at measured intervals on a patient’s scalp. The test is not painful. The test itself usually takes about 90 minutes and the principal role of the patient is simply to remain still, relaxed and comfortable. During the test, the patient may be asked to take repeated deep breaths [hyperventilate] and/or be shown a strobe light that flashes at different speeds. It is very helpful to record sleep, so the patient may be asked to stay awake extra hours the night before the test. All of these activities can help reveal different brain patterns that are useful for diagnosis.
The simultaneous recording of EEG and videotaped behavior over extended periods of time is referred to as long-term monitoring (LTM). It is useful in diagnosing patients with intermittent or infrequent disturbances as well as in the diagnosis of seizures and other neurological disorders, such as unexplained coma.