If you are a science and technology oriented individual who likes to work with people and who is looking for a challenging career in a health care field, neurodiagnostic technology may be the allied health field for you. Neurodiagnostics analyzes and monitors nervous system function to promote the effective treatment of neurological diseases and conditions.
Neurodiagnostic technologists record electrical activity arising from the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves using a variety of techniques and instruments. This involves preparing patients for procedures, obtaining medical histories, recording electrical potentials, calculating results, and maintaining equipment. Technologists may work with specific treatments. They develop a good rapport with patients and comfort them during the recording procedure, which can last from 20 minutes (for a single nerve conduction study) to 8 hours (for an overnight sleep study). Neurodiagnostic technologists are trained to understand neurophysiology and recognize normal and abnormal electrical activity. They act as eyes and ears for specially trained doctors who later review and interpret the data. Considerable individual initiative, reasoning skill, and sound judgment are all expected of the electroneurodiagnostic professional.
The most common procedures that neurodiagnostic technologists perform are the electroencephalogram, long term monitoring, intraoperative neuromonitoring, the polysomnogram, evoked potential studies, and nerve conduction studies. The electroencephalogram [EEG] is the most frequently performed procedure.
Career in Neurodiagnostic Testing
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. EEGs also are 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. 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.
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.
Intraoperative Neuromonitoring – Monitors nervous system during surgery
Intraoperative Neuromonitoring [IONM] is the use of neurophysiological monitoring techniques during surgery to provide information to the surgeon about nervous system integrity. The use of IONM guards against neurological complications during surgery and helps reduce the risk of negative surgical outcomes such as paralysis or stroke. IONM is used to monitor neurosurgical procedures and orthopedic procedures, including spinal surgery for scoliosis, tumors, and aneurysms; vascular surgeries; acoustic neuroma surgery; and carotid endarterectomy. Otolaryngologists use intraoperative neuromonitoring to monitor cranial nerve function during ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeries.
Polysomnograms [PSG] – Recording during sleep
The Polysomnogram [PSG] is a recording during sleep that uses EEG and other physiologic monitors to evaluate sleep and sleep disorders, such as loud snoring, difficulty staying awake during the day, falling asleep at inappropriate times, insomnia, and uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs. Physicians use polysomnograms to identify dysfunction in sleep/wake cycles, to diagnose breathing disorders during sleep, and to evaluate treatment of these disorders.