Back How is epilepsy diagnosed?

A neurologist or epileptologist interview is the first step. The neurologist’s first tool in diagnosing epilepsy is taking a careful birth and medical history, and gathering as much detailed information as possible. This will include both a medical history of the patient and that of family members, any psychiatric condition, the medications taken, descriptions of the seizures, and what happened just before the seizures began.

An accurate account of what occurred is crucial. If possible, take notes and bring someone who saw you having the seizure with you to the neurologist’s office. The neurologist or epileptologist will carefully review your medical history. Next, your neurologist may scan an image of your brain. This includes either a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan of the brain and an electroencephalogram (EEG, or brain-wave test). These tests can predict whether you are likely to have a second seizure, if you’ll need treatment, and can be very helpful in diagnosing epilepsy. Other tests may be used when it is difficult to make a diagnosis.

Once epilepsy is diagnosed, it is important to continue treatment with a neurologist or epileptologist who specializes in your condition.

Video: Stephen