Indications and yield of ambulatory EEG recordings

Yara Mikhaeil-Demo, Karina A. Gonzalez Otarula, Elizabeth M. Bachman, Stephan U. Schuele*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To study the yield of prolonged ambulatory electroencephalogram (aEEG). Methods: A retrospective chart review of all patients who underwent aEEG studies between 2013 and 2017 was performed. Reasons for aEEG were classified into five categories: detection of interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs), capturing clinical events, detection of unrecognized seizures, monitoring IEDs during treatment, and unclassifiable. Ambulatory EEG reports were reviewed to evaluate whether the study answered the clinical question. Results: A total of 1,264 patients were included. Forty studies were excluded for incomplete data and 234 for being a repeat study. The average number of recording days was 1.57 ± 0.73. Based on initial clinical evaluation, patients carried the following presumptive diagnosis: 61% epilepsy, 11% single unprovoked or acute symptomatic seizure and 28% non-epileptic paroxysmal events (PEs). Overall, focal IEDs were seen in 16.1% of studies, generalized IEDs in 10.8%, focal seizures in 4.1%, and generalized seizures in 1.9%. The most frequent reason for ordering aEEG was to detect IEDs for diagnostic purposes (48.1%). For this indication, additional information was provided by the aEEG in 19.1% of cases (58.6% focal IEDs, 33.5% generalized IEDs, 7.9% seizures without IEDs). Ambulatory EEG was ordered with the intent to capture and characterize clinical events in 18.9%, mostly in patients who reported daily or weekly events. In these, aEEG captured either epileptic seizures or PEs in 102 (42.7%) of the studies (83.3% PEs, 16.7% epileptic seizures). Ambulatory EEG was ordered to evaluate unrecognized seizures in 17.8% of patients, and electrographic seizures were identified in 13.3% of these studies. Significance: The yield of aEEG varies based on the indication for the study. Ambulatory EEG can be a useful tool for recording IEDs in the outpatient setting and in a select group of patients to capture clinical events or unrecognized seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-103
Number of pages10
JournalEpileptic Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • ambulatory electroencephalogram
  • diagnostic yield
  • epilepsy
  • interictal epileptiform discharges
  • prolonged electroencephalogram
  • seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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