Background: The EEG is a commonly requested test on patients attending psychiatric services, predominantly to investigate for a possible organic brain syndrome causing behavioural changes.
Aims: To assess referrals for EEG from psychiatric services in comparison with those from other sources. We determine which clinical factors were associated with an abnormal EEG in patients referred from psychiatric sources.
Methods: A retrospective review of EEG requests in a 1-year period was performed. Analysis of referral reasons for psychiatric patients was undertaken, and outcome of patients referred from psychiatric services post-EEG was reviewed.
Results: One thousand four hundred and seventy EEGs were reviewed, of which 91 (6.2%) were referred from psychiatry. Neurology service referrals had detection rates of abnormal EEGs of 27%, with psychiatric referrals having the lowest abnormality detection rate of 17.6% (p < 0.1). In psychiatric-referred patients the only significant predictors found of an abnormal EEG were a known history of epilepsy (p < 0.001), being on clozapine (p < 0.05), and a possible convulsive seizure (RR = 6.51). Follow-up data of 53 patients did not reveal a significant clinical impact of EEG results on patient management.
Conclusions: Many patients are referred for EEG from psychiatric sources despite a relatively low index of suspicion of an organic brain disorders, based on reasons for referral documented, with an unsurprising low clinical yield.
Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.