What to expect for an MRI and an EEG exam

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What to expect for an MRI and an EEG exam

The two main tests that a neurologist might order include an MRI and an EEG. An EEG is done for diagnosis of seizures or if seizures are suspected. This involves stickers placed on the head, much like an EKG for the heart, these stickers are placed on the head and they detect brain waves in the brain. It doesn't hurt, the child might not like it because there is a glue that's used that doesn't smell very good, and they do have to sort of sit still while the stickers are being applied. But after the stickers are applied, they're able to move around within range of the machine. And that test takes about 1 hour, some 40 minutes to 1 hour, although sometimes longer tests might be used. An MRI is magnetic resonance imaging, this is our best way of getting a picture of the brain. We use these tests to look at what's going on in the brain structurally, if we suspect an area of structural damage. This is always done after a seizure diagnosis is made to make sure that there's not an area of the brain that's formed abnormally or has had some type of process going on after birth that might be causing the seizures. Sometimes this might require sedation by anesthesia for younger children. It does require that the child lay still for approximately 1 hour in an MRI machine which is dark and loud, and the child has to be alone, although sometimes you can have the parent speaking to the child through a microphone that they can hear in the room. This test allows us to see what the brain looks like. It's sort of like flying over the city that you live in, in an airplane, and seeing where the houses and the trees are. You can tell what the lay of the land is, but you can't tell exactly what's going on in each house. You don't know, for example, if someone has a clogged toilet or if their oven is working. So, this helps us to see structurally what's going on, but it doesn't tell us functionally what's going on. So there could still be problems that the child is experiencing and the child could have a normal MRI, because the problems are going on, so to speak, inside the house rather than in the landscape.

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Jane Tavyev Asher, MD

Division of Child Neurology - Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Jane Tavyev Asher is a board certified Child Neurologist and Director of the Division of Child Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  Upon attaining her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, she completed residency/ fellowship training in Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at Baylor College of Medicine/ Texas Children’s Hospital, where her clinical training focused on behavioral neurology, specializing in autism and other developmental disorders, and her research focused on epigenetic factors in autism.  She currently maintains a clinical practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she sees patients with a variety of neurologic conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, ADHD, learning disabilities, tics, headaches, and cognitive/ behavioral management in neuromuscular disorders.  She holds an academic/ research appointment as Assistant Professor at UCLA in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.  Her current research interest remains in the area of autism.  Dr. Tavyev Asher is proud to contribute to the training of the next generation of physicians including those specializing in Pediatrics, Child Psychiatry, and Child and Adult Neurology, and she enjoys giving talks on various neurologic topics locally and nationally.  She is a member of the Child Neurology Society, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCLA CART (Center for Autism Research and Treatment), and The Help Group-UCLA Autism Research Alliance.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of Healthy Child Healthy Child Healthy World.  She enjoys art, music, yoga, skiing, and relaxing with her family.

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