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Physicians use the following tests to get images of the brain:

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

An EEG provides a record of the electrical activity going on in the brain. A technician connects an EEG machine to specific parts of a patient’s head using wires and electrodes. The electrodes pick up signals from the different parts of the brain and chart those signals as waves that change depending on activity. Epilepsy often produces abnormal brain waves not only during seizures, but also at other times. Physicians in the Epilepsy Center can interpret information from the charts to help make a diagnosis.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI makes detailed pictures of the brain by using a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy. It can detect abnormal blood vessels, tumors, scar tissue, and other lesions that may be responsible for producing seizures.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

A PET scan uses a radioactive material called a tracer to highlight areas of concern in the brain.

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)

Two scans of the brain are performed for this test: one during a seizure and another while the brain is functioning normally. Radioactive material is used to highlight the active sections of the brain and the two scans are compared. The seizure focus (the area that is producing seizures in the brain) is highlighted by subtracting the non-seizure scan from the seizure scan. This test often tremendously helps physicians to make surgical decisions.