Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) is a specialized inpatient unit designed to evaluate, diagnose and treat adult and pediatric patients with seizures of unknown origin.

An Epilepsy Monitoring Unit is available at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

Experienced epilepsy specialists from the EMU Control Room provide patients with monitoring 24 hours a day and perform neurological testing as events occur. Our EEG technologists and nurses are specially trained in recognizing and responding to seizures to maximize your safety.

Beaumont, Royal Oak's EMU consists of two adult beds on the 8 South Neuro floor and one pediatric bed on the 5 South Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Physicians refer to the EMU for assistance with:

  • evaluating patients for epilepsy surgery
  • classifying seizure types
  • epileptic disorders vs. non-epileptic mechanisms (syncope, cardiac arrhythmias, transient ischemic attacks, movement disorders, psychogenic seizures and sleep disturbances)
  • determining the frequency, type and nature of patient's episodes
  • obtaining better control of seizures with proper anticonvulsants

Epilepsy Testing

Electroencephalography (EEG):

A routine EEG recording typically lasts 20-40 minutes.  It gives a "snapshot" of the brain's electrical activity. Electrodes are attached to the patient's head and to a computer that records electrical signals from the brain.

Video-EEG (V-EEG):

A camera records your continuous physical and audio/noise activities while continuous EEG recording detects seizure activities or events.  This is the type of EEG you will have in the EMU.

In the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, simultaneous recording of EEG and video data allows us to determine if there are seizures and where in the brain they begin.

What to Expect in the EMU

In the hospital, you will be seen every day by one of the EMU specialty epilepsy neurologists and an IV will be started by your nurse for blood draws or medication during your stay.

On your first day at the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, you may visit the Interventional Radiology Department to have two special "sphenoidal electrodes" attached with a topical anesthetic. These electrodes are inserted under the skin close to your ear/jaw/cheek bone on both sides of your face. They record activities from areas much closer to the brain than those on your scalp where the regular electrodes are placed.

During a seizure event, a staff member may inject a special isotope solution through your IV line for a special procedure called an Ictal-SPECT Scan.

What to Bring to the EMU

  • loose, comfortable clothes like sweat pants, shorts, and pajamas (no pullovers due to head electrodes)
  • medications (prescription and non-prescription) you currently take
  • personal care items such as soap, toothpaste, and toiletries
  • prescribed CPAP or Bi-level PAP Machine for sleep
  • books, magazines, puzzles, games, DVD movies, and craft/hobby projects to help pass the time
  • food from home or carry-out may be stored in the refrigerator in the pantry
  • cell phones and laptops are permitted

Patients usually stay in the EMU for 2 - 4 days, so a family member or friend is encouraged to stay to help with the evaluation of the patient events. However, an adult family member/friend is required to be present throughout the entire EMU admission with pediatric patients. All rooms are private and comfortable with a flat screen TV for the patient's entertainment.

Once a Physician Referral Form is received from a patient's doctor, the patient will be contacted to set up a date for admission to the EMU and proper insurance authorization will be obtained.