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To investigate the utility of electroencephalography (EEG) for evaluation of patients with altered mental status (AMS).We retrospectively reviewed 200 continuous EEGs (cEEGs) obtained in ICU and non-ICU wards and 100 spot EEGs (sEEGs) obtained from the emergency department (ED) of a large tertiary medical center. Main outcomes were access time (from study request to hookup), and diagnostic yield (percentage of studies revealing significant abnormality).Access time, mean±SD (maximum), was 3.5±3.2 (20.8) hours in ICU, 4.8±5.0 (25.6) hours in non-ICU, and 2.7±3.6 (23.9) hours in ED. Access time was not significantly different for stat requests or EEGs with seizure activity. While the primary indication for EEG monitoring was to evaluate for seizures as the cause of AMS, only 8% of cEEGs and 1% of sEEGs revealed seizures. Epileptiform discharges were detected in 45% of ICU, 24% of non-ICU, and 9% of ED cases, while 2% of ICU, 15% of non-ICU, and 45% of ED cases were normal.Access to EEG is hampered by significant delays, and in emergency settings, the conventional EEG system detects seizures only in a minority of cases.Our findings underscore the inefficiencies of current EEG infrastructure for accessing diagnostically important information, as well as the need for more prospective data describing the relationship between EEG access time and EEG findings, clinical outcomes, and cost considerations.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.clinph.2016.08.013
View details for PubMedID 27611442