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Inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at UI Health uses the latest technology to assess, diagnose, and treat seizures.  Our brand new, state-of-the-art equipment allows our team of epilepsy specialists to monitor a patient's brain activity and body movements around-the-clock.  EEG (electroencephalography) equipment records brain activity while video cameras record any type of body movements during a seizure.  This combination of EEG and video allows for a better understanding of seizures and seizure onset.   A typical stay in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit ranges from 3-7 days, depending on the frequency and severity of a patient's seizures.  Patients in the unit are monitored continuously (day and night) to keep the patient safe and to gather all necessary information.   A patient is often admitted to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit for one of two reasons: diagnostic purposes or pre-surgical evaluation.  For both purposes, patients are typically weaned off their anti-seizure medications in order to record any episodes.

Diagnostic Purposes

Patients will sometimes come to their doctor complaining of  "spells" or episodes that could be seizures.  In this situation, confirmation is necessary before a treatment plan can be created.  The patient is admitted to the EMU where they will be evaluated under continuous video EEG monitoring.  Any medications currently being taken by the patient will be stopped in order to observe and record the typical episodes.  The patient's stay in the EMU can often help to determine whether or not the condition is epilepsy.  If epilepsy is confirmed, further monitoring may assist our team in diagnosing the specific type of epilepsy syndrome, which will play a crucial role in creating the best, most effective treatment plan.

Pre-Surgical Evaluation

While epilepsy can often be managed with medication, 30% of epilepsy patients do not respond to their medications and continue to have seizures.  In this situation, surgery is the next step for treatment, and these patients must undergo a pre-surgical evaluation.  The patient is admitted to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit where they are taken off of their medications under highly controlled conditions.  During their stay, our epilepsy specialists record as many seizures as possible.  Observing, monitoring, and recording seizures is very useful because it tells our team where the seizures originated in the brain and helps to determine if surgery is possible.

Patients will often need an additional admission to the EMU (phase II monitoring) for intracranial recording.  This is usually done if an admitted patient's scalp EEG shows they are a potential candidate for surgery.  In order to pursue the possibility of surgery and to better outline the area of the brain that will be surgically removed, intracranial recording is necessary.

A team of epileptologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, and neuroradiologists will all work together to help the patient achieve the best possible treatment.  

Our Epilepsy Monitoring Team:

Dr. Jeffrey Loeb, Chairman of Neurology & Adult Epileptologist
Dr. Anna Serafini, EMU Medical Director & Adult Epileptologist
Dr. Konstantin Slavin, Neurosurgeon
Dr. Saba Ahmad, Pediatric Epileptologist
Neil Pliskin, Neuropsychologist
Woojin Song, Neuropsychologist
Jason Sable, Neuropsychologist
Gina Gebhardt, Epilepsy Nurse