Testing & diagnosis for epilepsy in children

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Contact the Epilepsy Center

From your child’s first evaluation at Boston Children’s Hospital, we will consider you an integral part of the care team. We will rely on your observations of your child’s seizures and will work with you to understand his 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?
  • Do the seizures represent epilepsy, or are they being caused by some other disorder?
  • What part of the brain is causing the seizures?
  • How can we manage your child’s seizures and help him 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 his 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 brain waves using tiny wires attached to the head, in order to show the abnormal electrical activity that’s producing your child’s seizures
  • 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

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 your child’s epilepsy, 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 that will help your child function at his highest possible level.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337