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Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) Overview

The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at Barrow Neurological Institute is comprised of 12 beds wired for continuous video electroencephalography (EEG), which permits nonstop monitoring of your brain wave activity. You might be admitted to the EMU for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Event characterization: This involves recording one of your typical neurological events to determine if it is a seizure (and what kind) or due to another cause.
  • Medication adjustment: The goal is to safely adjust anti-seizure medication while you are under video EEG monitoring for safety, particularly in the setting of a complex medication regimen.
  • Phase I pre-surgical evaluation: If you are considering epilepsy surgery, our team will record multiple seizures to help localize their onset and aide in the planning of the operation.
  • Phase II surgical evaluation: Intracranial EEG electrode implantation with stereo EEG (SEEG) electrodes for seizure monitoring, with the ultimate goal of surgical treatment via resection, RNS or DBS implantation, or a combination thereof.
Portrait of Anna Costina in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

What can I expect during my stay in the EMU?

People are usually admitted to the EMU for multiple days to accomplish the goals outlined in the previous section. Brain wave patterns and physical activity are monitored continuously through simultaneous EEG and audio/video monitoring. The multidisciplinary team that cares for patients admitted to the EMU includes:

  • Attending epileptologist (a neurologist with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy)
  • Epilepsy or clinical neurophysiology fellow,
  • Neurology residents
  • Medical students
  • Epilepsy advanced practice provider (usually a nurse practitioner)
  • EEG technologists
  • Certified neuroscience nurses
  • Nursing aides
  • Dieticians
  • Care managers
  • Social workers

What will I get out of my EMU experience?

Your admission to the EMU should be an educational experience.  This is not only an opportunity to learn more about your seizures, but to also learn more about epilepsy in general and the medications used to treat seizures.

We want you to be inquisitive and to ask questions about your seizures and treatments. The length of stay in the EMU (up to several days) presents a rare opportunity to learn from our experts. As a teaching institution, we see this learning experience is a shared experience—our fellows, residents, and medical students learn a tremendous amount from you and your fellow patients under the guidance of their supervising attending epileptologist.

The EMU rotation is a core experience for our neurology fellows in training. Fellows participate in activities essential to their development as future epileptologists including but not limited to:

  • Daily EEG review and reporting
  • Patient rounds
  • Pre-surgical patient presentations and stereo-EEG planning discussions
  • Bedside mapping procedures
  • Acute seizure management

The EMU is also a common setting for epilepsy research. You may be approached before or during a planned admission to participate in a clinical trial. Please remember that your participation in clinical research is never mandatory and your participation decision does not impact the quality of care you will receive. With that said, many of our patients say that participating in a research study is a great way to help pass the time during their stay. Research studies cover a variety of topics and may range from simple question-based surveys to research with intracranial depth recordings in people undergoing Phase II implantation.

We understand that being in the hospital can be uncomfortable and challenging. Therefore, we take as many steps as possible to ensure that your goals and priorities are met in a supportive environment that responds to your individual needs. We realize that you may have special needs and we aim to identify those needs in advance of an elective admission, thereby increasing the likelihood your stay will be a success. We encourage you to be proactive in this process and discuss any fears, concerns, or special accommodations with your epileptologist before your stay.

We look forward to helping all of our patients move forward in their epilepsy treatment, ultimately with the goal of achieving seizure freedom and an improved quality of life. The EMU is one stepping stone along this path for many patients, and we strive to make it a positive experience.

Request an Appointment with an Epilepsy Specialist

Call (602) 406-6262