From your child’s first evaluation at Boston Children’s Hospital, we consider you an integral part of the care team. We rely on your observations of your child’s symptoms and work with you to understand her situation and find the right treatment plan.
If your child is experiencing unexplained seizures, we try to answer these questions:
- Is your child experiencing seizures, or some other problem that looks like seizures?
- What type of seizures are they? How many of them are happening, and how serious are they?
- What is causing your child’s seizures? Do they represent epilepsy?
- What part of the brain is causing the seizures?
- How can we manage your child’s seizures and help her live seizure-free?
You and your child will meet with a neurologist, who will review your child’s medical history and family history and perform a specialized physical exam.
We may ask you questions such as:
- At what time of day do your child’s seizures occur?
- How long do they last?
- What parts of your child’s body are affected?
- What is her mental awareness like immediately before and after a seizure?
To learn about your child’s seizures and to plan treatment, we may perform a number of specialized tests including:
- blood tests (such as blood sugar, complete blood count, electrolytes and liver and kidney function tests)
- electroencephalography (EEG), a test that records electrical activity in your child’s brain using tiny wires attached to her head. The instruments are so sensitive that they pick up even small seizures that don’t lead to physical symptoms.
- brain imaging tests including CT, MRI and PET scans to look for any scar tissue, tumors or brain malformations that may be causing your child’s seizures
- spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to see if there is an infection or other problems
These tools help us to accurately diagnose your child’s condition. Many other conditions—such as stroke, fainting, problems with heartbeat or breath-holding spells—can often look like seizures.
Many of these tests are performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that your child doesn’t have to stay overnight. Specialists in our neurophysiology laboratories perform about 5,000 electroencephalograms (EEGs) each year, making us exceptionally experienced. Our technologists specialize in working with children: Your child will be tested by someone who is dedicated to providing excellent, compassionate care. You can stay with your child throughout testing.
In addition to studying your child’s seizures, we watch for other problems that may be related to them, such as learning or behavior difficulties or depression. Neuropsychologists on our team use specialized testing to monitor your child’s cognitive abilities, learning, behavior, emotional well-being and social function, in order to develop strategies to help your child function at her highest possible level.
If you are coming to Boston Children’s for an EEG or other diagnostic test, you and your child probably have a lot of questions about what to expect. You may find it helpful to view this walkthrough of an EEG study together.
|The highest level of care for children with seizures and epilepsy|
Boston Children’s is nationally recognized as a Level 4 Epilepsy Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers for delivering the highest level of care, including comprehensive evaluation, testing, treatment and counseling for children with epilepsy and seizures. We are one of only a few Level 4 Epilepsy Centers in the country entirely dedicated to caring for children, whose seizures—and the treatments that work for them—are often very different compared with adults.