Visiting the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

Prep for the EMU

Two to three days prior to the child’s EMU appointment, a scheduler will call the parent to confirm the appointment and to collect some important information about the child’s condition and any special needs they may have. She will go over the instructions with the parent, including what to bring (toys, change of clothing, favorite blanket, medications, etc.), where to park, and location of the admissions office.


When you and your child arrive at the EMU, you will be welcomed by the nursing staff, your child will be weighed and measured, and you will be oriented to your private room. The child’s nurse will perform a brief nursing assessment and answer any questions you may have.

Video EEG Monitoring

The EEG tech will explain the EEG process and your child will be taken to the application room where the EEG electrodes will be applied to the scalp. More than 24 electrodes are applied to the scalp with special glue. Squares of gauze are dipped in the glue, placed over the electrodes, and an air compressor is used to dry the glue. Your child’s head does not need to be shaved for this procedure.

Once the electrodes are in place, your child will be taken back to his or her private room where the tech will connect the electrodes to the EEG equipment. The child will have limited mobility and is not able to leave the private room during his or her stay in the EMU. The electrode wires are joined to a small box that the child can carry with him or her when going to the private bathroom or when moving from the bed to the chair.

From the Command Center in the EMU, techs control the video monitor of each child, zooming in and out and moving the camera as the child moves so that the child is recorded at all times. They can also use an intercom to communicate to the doctors, nurses and/or parents in the room about the child’s condition when a seizure occurs.

Baseline EEG

After the electrodes are applied and the child is settled in his or her private room, the EEG tech will spend the next 40 minutes recording a baseline for the Video EEG (VEEG). The child will be asked to relax, keep his or her eyes closed, blow on a pinwheel or breathe deeply. A flashing strobe light will be used for about three minutes. The tech will ask questions to test for responsiveness. This interaction gives our specialists information about the child’s ability to communicate, and prepares the child for the same questions that may be asked during or after a seizure.

Then your child will resume normal activities, such as reading, doing homework, playing video games, or watching TV. Portable electronics such as laptops are allowed as long as they don’t interfere with the EEG equipment.

The Parent’s Role

One parent is required to be with the child at all times during their stay in the EMU. Each room contains a private bathroom and a couch for the parent to sleep on. The parent can be instrumental in alerting the EMU staff when their child begins to have an event. When the parent pushes the alert button, it signals to the EEG techs, marks the EEG itself, and alerts the nurses to provide safety interventions.

Discharge from the EMU

Once your child’s stay in the EMU is over, the EEG tech will disconnect the patient from the equipment. The electrodes are removed with a special solvent and the child’s hair is washed. The nurse will provide discharge education to the parents and the parents will sign discharge papers.

Result will typically be sent to the referring physician within 2–3 weeks.

Learn more about neuroimaging.