Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)

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Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)

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Evaluating epilepsy

Patients in the F.E. Dreifuss Comprehensive Epilepsy Program come to the Inpatient Epilepsy Unit to:

  • diagnose why they are having spells
  • determine (or classify) the type of seizures to decide proper medication
  • modify medication because of toxicity concerns or continued seizures
  • find the exact location of the cause of seizures within the brain to determine if they are a candidate for surgery

What to expect

During a stay at the inpatient unit, our patients may have one of a number of tests:

  • electroencephalograph (EEG) monitoring - this helps our physicians get a clear picture of the patient's illness. An EEG records the electric pulses of the brain by using wire-like electrodes attached to the patient's scalp.
  • a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), where a magnetic field and a computer generate cross-sectional images of the brain.
  • a computed tomography (CT) scan -- another method of producing a cross-sectional image (or plane) of the brain.
  • SPECT (single photon emission tomography) scans, which tells us how much blood is going into different areas of the brain.
  • neuro-psychological testing. This is a series of tests that examine IQ, memory and speech. These tests can help us learn where the patient's seizures start.
  • neuro-ophthalmologic visual field testing. This is usually done when we think there is a link between the illness and any eye problems.


None of these tests is painful or produces discomfort in any way.

In order to provide the most comprehensive care, we may also do social work and educational assessments.

Testing may take up to a week or more of continuous, careful analysis under controlled conditions.

Meeting special needs

Our patients and their families may be under a great deal of stress. We offer a broad range of special services to make your visit as comfortable as possible.

More information

Click here for detailed information about epilepsy surgery and testing.

Click to read the article, Recent Advances in Epilepsy or Comprehensive Epilepsy Program.