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Seizures in newborns can be detected with small, portable brain activity monitors
Date:7/2/2008

July 2, 2008 -- Compact, bedside brain-activity monitors detected most seizures in at-risk infants, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showed. That means the compact units could assist clinicians in monitoring for electrical seizures until confirmation with conventional EEG (electroencephalography), the researchers assert in an article published in the June issue of Pediatrics.

The smaller, more portable units are called amplitude-integrated EEG or aEEG monitors. They use only two or four scalp electrodes to detect the brain's electrical activity, instead of the 12 or 20 used with conventional EEG devices. They also filter and compress the raw signals from the electrodes to provide simpler, shorter readouts than conventional EEG monitors. aEEG machines are easier for staff to manage, and the monitors can more practically be run for longer periods. In addition, more medical facilities can afford aEEG devices because they have lower upfront and operating costs.

But until recently no one had studied whether aEEG was as accurate as conventional EEG for detecting brain seizures in babies. Seizures are episodes of abnormal brain activity that may or may not include involuntary muscle movements. So even if clinical staff members watch a newborn continuously, a seizure might be missed without the use of an EEG device. In newborns, seizures can be an indication that something is wrong in the brain, which might result from a metabolic disorder or a compromised blood supply to the brain before or during birth, for example.

The Washington University researchers conducted a side-by-side comparison of aEEG with conventional EEG. They used both technologies simultaneously for an average of 18 hours per patient to monitor the brain activity of 21 newborns who had experienced seizures. They also compared three different aEEG setups: one that produced a tracing from only one channel, one that produced tracing
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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