Neurodiagnostic is the study of the brain and nervous system. A Neurodiagnostic Technologist is a person specially trained to perform studies that give Neurologists important information in the diagnosis of conditions involving the nervous system. These tests may be done on the brain, central nerves, or peripheral nerves. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a recording of brain waves using electrodes placed on the scalp. It records the electrical activity of the brain, and is a key tool in the diagnosis of Epilepsy or other brain disorders. Evoked Potential studies examine how information is traveling from the eyes, ears, or peripheral nerves in the body to their corresponding area in the brain. Nerve Conduction Studies reveal conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathy, by sending electrical signals through the body and recording their power and speed. Long Term Continuous EEG Monitoring in settings such as an ICU give valuable information as to the state of the brain during a medical crisis. Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) studies are which can last several days to capture and classify seizure activity, with the goal of helping patients on their journey to becoming seizure- free.
Registered EEG Technologists must complete many hours of education and training, and pass two board examinations in order to obtain their status as R.EEG T. All St. Mary’s Technologists carry this designation.
Neurodiagnostic Services Offered at St. Mary’s
At St. Mary’s we provide a wide variety of Neurodiagnostic Services. Our patients come from all over the Western Slope and eastern Utah, and range in age from neonatal to geriatric populations.
Out Patient EEG—Out patient studies often lead to the discovery of a previously unknown seizure disorder or Epilepsy. Studies are typically 30 minutes to one hour long, during which the patient’s brain waves are recorded in the awake, drowsy, and in some cases, sleep states.
In Patient EEG– In patient EEG is ordered by physicians for many reasons. It may be to evaluate basic brain function after trauma or heart attack. It may be to evaluate changes in mental state, or new onset symptoms of possible seizure. It is done with the patient lying in bed, while the Technologist observes their brain waves, which are then sent to a physician for review.
Evoked Potential Studies (EP)– Evoked Potentials are studies which determine how well the nervous system responds to various stimuli. We offer studies which test the visual, auditory, and sensory nerve pathways.
Epileptologist- Dr. Marie Collier—Dr. Collier joined St. Mary’s Hospital in September of 2016, she is the only board certified Epileptologist on the Western Slope of Colorado. An epileptologist is a neurologist who has trained typically through a fellowship with a specific interest in epilepsy. Epileptologists have expertise in evaluating and treating epileptic seizures and seizure disorders. Epileptologists work closely with neurodiagnostic technologists both in the inpatient and outpatient setting reviewing EEG studies and coordinating care.
Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)
This unit utilizes a specialized team of professionals including the Epileptologist, Hospitalists, EEG Technologists, Neuro-Monitoring Technicians, RNs, and CNAs to care for persons undergoing Long Term Epilepsy Monitoring. Patients stay from one to five days hooked up to the EEG monitors. They are continuously observed by EEG and video during the length of their stay by NeuroMonitoring Technicians. Whenever a seizure is detected, staff goes immediately to the patient’s side to keep them safe, while the EEG and video record invaluable information about the brain and body during the event. Once several typical events have been recorded the Epileptologist uses the data collected to direct the patients care, medication, nutrition, and other therapies to help move the patient towards seizure freedom.
St. Mary’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit is the only unit of its kind between Denver and Salt Lake.
Services On the Horizon
Expanding ICU Long Term EEG Monitoring
St. Mary’s offers Long Term ICU Monitoring already. We will be expanding the use of EEG in this setting to monitor patients with a wide variety of conditions including intracranial hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, and oxygen deprivation to the brain due to trauma or stroke.
Starting this summer EEG Technologists will travel with St. Mary’s Neurologists to perform EEG testing in towns across the region including Cortez, Gunnison, Craig, and Moab. Many of our patients are not allowed to drive due to the risk of seizing at the wheel. Transportation over long distances can present a significant barrier to receiving services. Our outreach to these underserved areas will allow patients access to care that may prove to be life-saving by aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of Epilepsy or other brain disorders.