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The Wada Test

Can any of you explain your experience through the Wada test for me?  What was it like having half of your brain put to sleep?  Did you even realize it?  Do you speak with the doctor while the brain is sleeping?  How much did the catheter hurt or bother you?  Can others sit in t he room with you?  What kind of questions are asked?  If there is anything else you'd like to share, please do!


Re: The Wada Test

Sorry my message posted twice for some reason!

Re: The Wada Test


The day before the Wada test I went through a practice run of what I would be doing during the Wada test. For me there was a box of objects and someone pulled objects out of the box and I had to name them (I assume the questions vary based on seizure location). I don't remember feeling bothered by the catheter, it made me feel a little uncomfortable because they took my clothes off; I tried to remember that to them I was just another patient and they'd seen it all before.

The did the left side (my dominant side first). It was a pretty bazaar thing. My neurologist was there and he held both of my arms up in the air (I guess one of them drops and that's how they know it worked). They injected the drug and I felt like I had wet my pants as they told me I would, and I could feel the warmth moving up my body pretty fast, and then it reached my eye balls and I thought they were going to explode! Obviously they didn't. When they did my left side I could see all of the people and I think I knew who they were and I knew that they were doing the Wada test, I don't remember feeling scared. I do remember my neurologist saying something like stay awake, try your best, etc. They lady with the box pulled things out, but I couldn't talk. I don't remember if it was like my post seizure experience when I knew the answer but couldn't say it or if I just didn't know the answer. I remember every one else having a look of suspense on their face, but I don't remember having any emotional feelings. I don't really remember the left side "coming back," but obviously it did.

Then they did the right side and I was totally fine, I felt the warmth again and my eyeballs felt like they were going to explode again, but I functioned 100% normally. It was very odd. I even asked if we could do the left side again to see if I could do better! Silly me. So basically I got a 0/8 without the left left and an 8/8 without the right- I don't know if that is good or bad. I guess if it had been 8/8 without the left they might have done the surgery without grids, but I don't know that for sure.

I have no idea how long the procedure took, but when I was done I went back into a room where my mom was and had to stay there for a while to make sure my femoral artery didn't burst. They told me I would get super sleepy and want to take a nap. At first I felt fine and didn't think I needed a nap, but then before I realized it I was fast asleep for a few hours. Eventually I was discharged, I don't remember how they determined that. I was told not to do anything strenuous or lift any heavy objects for either 24 or 48 hours. I flew home that night though.

I imagine that this can differ immensely between people, the warmth thing, how it affects your functioning, questions they ask, etc. but that's my story, hope its helpful. I hope that your Wada test goes well and gives the neurologists useful and positive information!!!

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Thank you so much.  I appreciate you not holding back and telling me your real experience and feelings.  Have you had the surgery since?


Fawn M. Fox

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No problem! Yes I had grids implanted 2/9/2012, and the surgery 2/23/2012, and I've been seizure free since!!!!! :)

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I had a WADA test in 2010 prior to my temporal lobectomy (they really did remove the whole right temporal lobe!)

My neurologist showed me a bunch of objects and photos prior to the test, then during the test he would show me something, ask me to identify it and whether he had showed it to me before.  During the procedure they had me hold my arm straight up.  For the right side of the brain I didn't notice anything different.  For the left side - wow!  When he showed me an object I looked at it and had that feeling you get when you can't think of a word, like it's on the tip of your tongue.  Only that was true for all words - it was amazing!  I had no words.  I also noticed that my right arm had dropped to my side.

I was uncomfortable when they inserted the line in my groin, and the doctor was surprised by the amount of discomfort I had, so I think I was unusual in that.  I didn't have anyone with me, but they had me in a gown and everything and was instructed not to touch my face or anything.  There was a nurse there to scratch my itches for me.

After the procedure you have to lay flat on your back for 6 hours while they ply you with juices and water.  I found using a bedpan to be difficult, but it gets to a point where you just have to go.  A friend came to pick me up and I spent the weekend at her house, which was good because I didn't feel like doing much.

I was 49 years old when I had the procedure done; I had also had an angiogram done before my first surgery when I was 28.  The second time was much more difficult, but perhaps that was because the test was longer.

The second surgery was a complete success, I have been seizure free for over 2 years and am now going off my medication.  After 35 years with epilepsy it feels like a miracle to me.  Good luck!


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 Thank you Jenna, that helped a lot.  I'm glad to hear that everything worked for you and you no longer have seizures.  Hopefully the same will happen for me =)



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I had the WADA test in 2008.  What I remember the most was the discrepancy between the two sides, when it came to speech and memory.  I had scar tissue in my right temporal lobe, which was causing my seizures.  When just my right side was awake, I had trouble naming some objects and I only remembered about 25% of the pictures I had been shown.  When it was just my left side awake (and my right side asleep), I could name most of the objects and my memory test was 100%.   This revealed to me that the side I was having surgery on was already majorly affected by my seizures.  My left temporal lobe was already doing the heavy lifting!  I didn't find the test uncomfortable or painful; the recovery was not a problem.

These results also lined up with my MRI, which showed the scar tissue (caused by grand mal seizures when I was young) and they lined up with my videotaped EEG (which showed 15 seizures, all coming from the right temporal lobe.  My surgery was successful.  Good luck to you.


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Hi Fawn,

I had it in 2005 (and have been sz-free since surgery). I was scared to have this test done and it really wasn't that bad.  They go in by the groin (I think femoral artery) and up through your body.  THat didn't hurt.  I did get warm as the fluid went through the body.  My bad side is the left side, so when that side was affected, I was fine.  When they switched to knock out my good side (the right side) I lost my ability to speak, as I would when I had seizures, but didn't have the fear that I'd have if seizing.   The doc went through the props that I was supposed to identify and while I knew what was going on, I couldn't say a thing.  Once that side was no longer affected by the med I was back to normal.  You need to lay down for hours before you can leave, I guess to heal the incision to your artery.  I passed the test to leave, but when I bent over to tie my shoe, I passed out and wound up being admitted for the night.  So take your time when you're looking to leave.

I highly recommend surgery.  No meds worked for me and I waited far too long before going the surgery route (36 years).  I am now seizure-free over 7 years and med-free 3 years.  I had the surgery done at NYULMC with Dr. Doyle.  


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Let me comment too.  I just had my Wada January 7.  I was far too nervous and that was unnecessary.  Starting the angiogram in the groin was annoying but a got a second “hit” of lidocaine and we went on.  The doctors we’re actually having a good time and the whole situation was very relaxed.  It wasn’t worth losing any sleep over. 

I have mesial temporal sclerosis in the left hemisphere.

It was amazing as they tested their location in my left hemisphere using “contrast.”  I felt a rush in my left eyelid and told them they were in the right location.  It was amazing.  The Amytal put my left hemisphere to sleep and I was shown 11 cards and asked to read what I saw and remember it.  I laughed continuously when I knew what I was looking at, yet couldn’t pronounce the word, sentence or picture I was looking at.  I still laugh about it.  I really failed on the language portion here, but scored 7 of 11 when they tested my memory after the Amytal wore off.

They then did the same thing on the right hemisphere.  I still want to know how they moved the angiogram from the left to the right side!  On that side my language function was 100%, but memory was 3 or 11 items.

In my case, they used a new type of plug in my artery in my groin and I only had to lay flat for 90 minutes or so…then I got sent home.  I know three other people through my local Epilepsy Alliance of Orange County…and they all think the Wada was an amazing experience.  You won’t regret doing it.  Please move forward.  Good luck.

I am.  I’ll be going in to the hospital for intercranial monitoring, brain mapping and a temporal lobectomy in May!  I’m excited to move forward.

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I am very excited as well Steve!!  All that I have spoken with have had good outcomes and are so happy that they chose to have the surgery!  I'll probably be more nervous the night before, but getting info from all of you is making me feel much better on what to expect.  I'm going to a neuro-psychologist tomorrow for some memory testing.  I'm pretty sure I'll do pretty bad, my memory whether due to my meds or just epilepsy in general is not always great.  Then it's onto speaking with my Neuro and setting up a date for the Wada!  I would love to get this all done before the summer (my position is the busiest in the summer), but it doesn't look like it.  So I'll probably be getting the surgery around Sept./Oct.  I wish you the best of luck in yours!



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i'm about 100% positive that i can't lie down for 90 minutes without sleeping.  are you allowed to sleep?  i normally fall asleep while getting an MRI and EEG.  (i've been better since i started using the CPAP, but there is absolutely no way i'll make it.)

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I had the Wada test in Jan. 2013. I was nervous about this test more than any of the others. It did not hurt. What I remember is they put one side asleep then had me look at pictures , they then asked me is this a picture you saw. I would answer yes or no. They told me to raise my right arm when right brain was put to sleep. They were testing to see which side of my brain all my functions were such as hearing, speaking, seeing, following directions.. The way I felt when one side was asleep I was not all there guess I wasn't, had half my brain asleep. After all the test they found I had hippocampal sclerosis on my right temperal lobe. They found the focal area. I had mri laser guided surgery Feb. 8th 2013 at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville Florida. Tomorrow will be 9weeks since surgery I have been completely seizure free feeling great. This kind of surgery is less invasive. I had my surgery on Friday went home next day Sat. Morning. Cut the size of a pencil had two stables within a week headache was gone felt a little weak. I have been feeling stronger everyday. Anyone thinking about having surgery talk to your doctor about this surgery. I was the second epilepsy patient at Mayo Clinic in Florida to have it.

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I had the Wada Test yesterday 5/7/2013 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. I was apprehensive at first and it was unwarranted, the only issue I have today is some soreness in my groin from the catheter. Having part of your brain put to sleep sounds far worse than it actually was, I would strongly recommend the test. I have right temporal lobe scarring which is causing my seizures and the laser surgery has been recommended for me. I found out my speech function is located on the left side of my brain and I have memory on both sides which makes the decision to have the surgery much easier.

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I had my test at the end of April.  I was fine up until it was time to into the room w/o my husband.  I was so scared not knowing what this involved and what was going to happen.   I calmed down.  Was good while they were prepping me and then freaked when the test actually started (not even sure why, I think I made myself do it).  Like you, my groin hurt for a couple of days, I was afraid to move!  But all is good now.  Just waiting to hear what the board says and then onto meeting my surgeon and setting a date!  I'm scared, but excited to possibly end my seizures!!



I'm really curious about what

I'm really curious about what the failure rate of the WADA test is. If I don't "pass" it I won't be able to get the surgery will be forced to find another option... so has anyone here every failed it or heard of someone failing the test?

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