Continuous EEG monitoring in the intensive care unit: an overview

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2004 Sep-Oct;21(5):332-40.


Due to technological advances, it is now feasible to record continuous digital EEG (CEEG), with or without video, in critically ill patients and review recordings remotely. Nonconvulsive seizures (NCSzs) are more common than previously recognized and are associated with worse outcome. The majority of seizures in ICU patients are nonconvulsive and will be missed without CEEG. Factors associated with an increased risk for NCSzs include coma, prior clinical seizures, CNS infection, brain tumor, recent neurosurgery, and periodic epileptiform discharges. In addition to detecting seizures, CEEG is also useful for characterizing paroxysmal spells such as posturing or autonomic changes, detecting ischemia, assessing level of sedation, following long-term EEG trends, and prognosticating. Most NCSzs will be detected in the first 24 hours of CEEG in noncomatose patients, but longer recording periods may be required in comatose patients or in those with periodic epileptiform discharges. EEG patterns in encephalopathic or comatose patients are often equivocal. How aggressively to treat NCSzs and equivocal EEG patterns in these patients is unclear and requires further research. Real-time detection of ischemia at a reversible stage is technologically feasible with CEEG and should be developed into a practical form for prevention of in-hospital infarction in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Care / trends*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Electroencephalography / trends*
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
  • Prognosis
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • United States