An EEG, also known as an electroencephalogram, is a widely used medical procedure that is used to detect any problems pertaining to all electrical activity of a person's brain. To understand the purpose of an EEG, one must have a basic understanding of the workings of the brain. Brain cells are able to communicate with one another by producing certain tiny electrical impulses. During an EEG, these signals are measured with the help of electrodes being placed on the person's scalp. These electrodes are small metallic discs which are about 16 to 25 in number and are placed in all different positions over the scalp and secured with the help of a stick paste. The other ends of these electrodes are then connected to an amplifier as also a recording machine with the help of a few wires. Low voltage signals (those around 5 to 500 microvolts) are amplified through this machine and stored digitally for the data to be analyzed by the doctor.
EEG's are considered to be the best diagnostic test when it comes to identifying the presence of conditions such as epilepsy. However, it must be kept in mind that since the EEG is most likely performed at a time that the person is not suffering from a seizure, it is only indicative that an individual will suffer from the condition. If the patient has suffered any type of traumatic brain injury, any abnormalities on the brain waves test could be a direct result of the injury sustained and not necessarily the result of epileipsy. EEG's are also used in indentifying the reasons for chronic confusion, tumors, infections and degenerative diseases like alzheimers.
When undergoing brain wave testing, the patient is unlikely to experience any sort of discomfort, although the feeling of the electrodes pasted onto the skin may feel rather odd. All in all, there is very little risk or complication involved in conducting an EEG, though, the presence of flashing lights or hyperventilation could trigger a seizure to take place. Another aspect of the test that could be troublesome is getting the paste out of your hair once the procedure has been completed. A few thorough hair washes with a good shampoo will help take care of this problem.
Abnormal test results of a brain wave test are indicative of inflammation or swelling of the brain, brain hemorrhage and even drug and alcohol abuse. However, one should keep in mind the fact that just because an EEG reading appears normal, this does not indicate the absence of a seizure.