Home Testing For Epilepsy Pioneered In The UK
A hospital in the UK has become the first to pioneer home testing for epilepsy. This could not only help to address the problem of epilepsy misdiagnosis, but could also avoid the stress of hospital visits.
If a person experiences multiple seizures, they should be referred to hospital for neurological assessment in case they have epilepsy. This almost always involves an electroencephalogram (EEG), in which electrodes are attached to the head and the brain’s electrical activity is measured. However, if a person doesn’t experience a seizure whilst the EEG is being performed, the results can come back as normal and the epilepsy can be ‘missed’ or mistaken for something else. Extending the length of the EEG is a possibility; but this requires a stay in hospital and even then it is not guaranteed that a seizure will be captured (particularly as studies show that people are about half as likely to have a seizure in hospital as at home).
To try and address this problem, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in London, is pioneering a service known as Home Video Telemetry (HVT). This involves a technician visiting the person at home and fitting them with a special head device that will record their brain activity over several days. A video camera is also incorporated into the system to capture any seizures visually. The technician returns to the person every day to collect data, which is then analysed by the consultant. In the mean time the person can carry on their daily life as normal, without the inconvenience or distress of hospital visits. If shown to be successful in this pilot study, HVT will be trialled more widely.
Consultant neurologists at King’s College Hospital are very hopeful that home testing will lead to more accurate epilepsy diagnoses; more prompt administration of treatment, and ultimately better outcomes for people with epilepsy. Dr Franz Brunnhuber commented “Misdiagnosis is a major problem with epilepsy because there are lots of conditions which mimic the disorder so it’s crucial to capture seizure attacks accurately. The home service is more convenient for patients. Hospital is a huge stress factor for them. Home testing means patients can lead a normal life.”