Electroencephalography during SARS-CoV-2 outbreak: practical recommendations from the task force of the Italian Society of Neurophysiology (SINC), the Italian League Against Epilepsy (LICE), and the Italian Association of Neurophysiology Technologists (AITN)

Neurol Sci. 2020 Jul 21;1-7. doi: 10.1007/s10072-020-04585-1. Online ahead of print.


Background: During COVID-19 lockdown, non-urgent medical procedures were suspended. Grade of urgency of electroencephalography (EEG) may vary according to the clinical indication, setting, and status of infection of SARS-CoV-2 virus. "Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology" (SINC), "Italian League Against Epilepsy" (LICE), and the "Italian Association of Neurophysiology Technologists" (AITN) aimed to provide clinical and technical recommendation for EEG indications and recording standards in this pandemic era.

Methods: Presidents of SINC, LICE, and AITN endorsed three members per each society to formulate recommendations: classification of the degree of urgency of EEG clinical indications, management and behavior of physicians and neurophysiology technologists, hygiene and personal protection standards, and use of technical equipment.

Results: Scientific societies endorsed a paper conveying the recommendation for EEG execution in accordance with clinical urgency, setting (inpatients/outpatients), status of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection (positive, negative and uncertain), and phase of governmental restrictions (phase 1 and 2). Briefly, in phase 1, EEG was recommended only for those acute/subacute neurological symptoms where EEG is necessary for diagnosis, prognosis, or therapy. Outpatient examinations should be avoided in phase 1, while they should be recommended in urgent cases in phase 2 when they could prevent an emergency room access. Reduction of staff contacts must be encouraged through rescheduling job shifts. The use of disposable electrodes and dedicated EEG devices for COVID-19-positive patients are recommended.

Conclusions: During the different phases of COVID-19 pandemic, the EEG should be reserved for patients really benefiting from its execution in terms of diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and avoidance of emergency room access.

Keywords: COVID-19; EEG; Italy; Neurophysiology; Recommendations.