Tests and investigations

There is no single test to diagnose epilepsy.

Epilepsy can often be confirmed from the description of the seizure, best provided by a witness, and the patient's medical history and examination of their nervous system. They will perform a medical examination to rule out other causes.

This consultation can provide enough information to confirm the diagnosis, however other investigations can be used to support the diagnosis. Other tests such as the EEG (electroencephalogram) or a brain scan can help to support the findings and may help us to understand the cause of the epilepsy.

Investigations available at the Wessex neurological centre

This department can perform the following investigations for people with epilepsy:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Ambulatory EEG
  • Inpatient EEG (24, 48 or 72 hours)
  • Video-telemetry
  • Intra-cranial video EEG

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that an EEG should only be performed 'to support a diagnosis of epilepsy in adults where the clinical history suggests the seizure is likely to be epileptic in origin'.