A comparison of continuous video-EEG monitoring and 30-minute EEG in an ICU

Epileptic Disord. 2014 Dec;16(4):439-48. doi: 10.1684/epd.2014.0715.


Aim: To determine whether there is added benefit in detecting electrographic abnormalities from 16-24 hours of continuous video-EEG in adult medical/surgical ICU patients, compared to a 30-minute EEG.

Methods: This was a prospectively enroled non-randomized study of 130 consecutive ICU patients for whom EEG was requested. For 117 patients, a 30-minute EEG was requested for altered mental state and/or suspected seizures; 83 patients continued with continuous video-EEG for 16-24 hours and 34 patients had only the 30-minute EEG. For 13 patients with prior seizures, continuous video-EEG was requested and was carried out for 16-24 hours. We gathered EEG data prospectively, and reviewed the medical records retrospectively to assess the impact of continuous video-EEG.

Results: A total of 83 continuous video-EEG recordings were performed for 16-24 hours beyond 30 minutes of routine EEG. All were slow, and 34% showed epileptiform findings in the first 30 minutes, including 2% with seizures. Over 16-24 hours, 14% developed new or additional epileptiform abnormalities, including 6% with seizures. In 8%, treatment was changed based on continuous video-EEG. Among the 34 EEGs limited to 30 minutes, almost all were slow and 18% showed epileptiform activity, including 3% with seizures. Among the 13 patients with known seizures, continuous video-EEG was slow in all and 69% had epileptiform abnormalities in the first 30 minutes, including 31% with seizures. An additional 8% developed epileptiform abnormalities over 16-24 hours. In 46%, treatment was changed based on continuous video-EEG.

Conclusion: This study indicates that if continuous video-EEG is not available, a 30-minute EEG in the ICU has a substantial diagnostic yield and will lead to the detection of the majority of epileptiform abnormalities. In a small percentage of patients, continuous video-EEG will lead to the detection of additional epileptiform abnormalities. In a sub-population, with a history of seizures prior to the initiation of EEG recording, the benefits of continuous video-EEG in monitoring seizure activity and influencing treatment may be greater.

Keywords: ICU; continuous video-EEG; critically ill; non-convulsive status epilepticus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Videotape Recording / methods*