Neurodiagnostics is the study and recording of electrical activity in the brain, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Recording the electrical activity of these nervous systems provide critical information that can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological problems ranging from epilepsy, headaches, head and spinal injuries, seizures, sleep disorders, strokes and unexplained comas.
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.
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A Guide to Neurodiagnostic Testing
Quality patient care through recording and study of the electrical activity of the brain and nervous system.
Neurodiagnostics is the allied health care profession that records, monitors, and analyzes nervous system function to promote effective treatment of pathologic conditions. Technologists record electrical activity arising from the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and 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 judgement are all expected of the neurodiagnostic technologist.
• are credentialed
• have met a minimum education level and related educational and performance standards
• meet continuing education requirements
• perform within a code of ethics and defined scope of practice
• are recognized by physicians, employers, the public, governmental agencies, and other health care professionals
• have a national society whose activities include lobbying for the profession
• contribute to the advancement of knowledge in neuroscience
The Electroencephalogram [EEG] is a recording of the ongoing 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 additionalinformation 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 and usually takes about 90 minutes. 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 these activities can help reveal different brain patterns that are useful for diagnosis.