Ambulatory EEG: a cost-effective alternative to inpatient video-EEG in adult patients

Epileptic Disord. 2012 Sep;14(3):290-7. doi: 10.1684/epd.2012.0529.


Introduction: Ambulatory electroencephalography (AEEG) is a monitoring technique that allows the recording of continuous EEG activity when patients are at home, without the necessity of admission to the hospital for prolonged video-EEG monitoring.

Methods: This is a prospective cohort study performed in a Canadian academic centre in order to assess the yield and tolerability of AEEG in the adult population. Over a period of three years, 101 patients were included. The yield of AEEG was assessed by taking into account the questions asked by the clinician before and after the investigation.

Results: One hundred and one patients undergoing AEEG were prospectively recruited during a three-year-period. Our population consisted of 45 males (44.6%) and 56 females (55.4%). The mean age of the group was 36.6 ± 16.1 years. Most of the patients had at least one previous routine EEG (93%). The primary reasons for the AEEGs were subdivided into four categories: a) to differentiate between seizures and non-epileptic events; b) to determine the frequency of seizures and epileptiform discharges; c) to characterize seizure type or localization; and d) to potentially diagnose epilepsy. The mean duration of AEEG recording was 32 ± 17 hours (15-96 hours). For 73 (72%) patients, the AEEG provided information that was useful for the management. For 28 (28%) patients, the AEEG did not provide information on diagnosis because no events or epileptiform activity occurred. In only 1 patient was the AEEG inconclusive due to non-physiological artefacts. Three patients were referred for epilepsy surgery without the necessity of video-EEG telemetry.

Conclusion: In this study, we found that AEEG has a high diagnostic yield (72%) and believe that careful selection of patients is the most important factor for a high diagnostic yield. The main use of AEEG is the characterization of patients with non-epileptic events, in patients with a diagnosis of epilepsy that is not clear, and quantification of spikes and seizures to improve the medical management. Ambulatory EEG is a cost-effective solution for increasing demands for in-hospital video-EEG monitoring of adult patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seizures