The doctor usually orders a variety of tests to help make the diagnosis. These include:

  • A brain wave test, also called an EEG (electroencephalogram), to look for changes in the brain's electrical patterns that are related to seizures.
  • Blood tests, to look for certain medical disorders.
  • Either a special x-ray of the brain, a CT scan (sometimes called a CAT scan), or an MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging), to look for abnormal areas such as a tumor or infection.
  • Depending on the urgency of the situation, other tests also might be recommended, such as a lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap), EKG (electrocardiogram, to check the heart), or a sleep test.

The results of these tests often appear completely normal in people with epilepsy. Normal test results do not mean that the seizures are not real or that epilepsy is not present.

 

Authored by: Carl W. Bazil, MD, PhD | Joseph I. Sirven, MD
Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 8/2013
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