Epilepsy Diagnosis Research Update – Dr. Michelle Shapiro

After a first seizure – or suspected seizure – it is often hard to know if an anti-seizure medication should be prescribed. Was this seizure a single event or does the person have epilepsy?

To identify whether the person has epilepsy or other underlying causes that may have led to a seizure, the electrical activity in the brain is monitored and recorded using electroencephalography (EEG). If abnormal seizure activity is seen in the brain, this provides the basis for a correct diagnosis. Typically, short EEGs are done (roughly 30 minutes in length) but often, during this length of time, no seizure activity is seen - even in patients who do have epilepsy.

Dr. Michelle Shapiro in Hamilton suspects that recording longer EEGs (up to 6 hours) after the first seizure might allow doctors to see seizure activity in the brain and improve the diagnosis of epilepsy. With over 30 adults recruited for this study to date, Dr. Shapiro hopes that this research will show the importance of longer EEG monitoring times for the diagnosis of epilepsy.

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