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Clinical Use of EEG in the ICU: Technical Setting

Alvarez, Vincent*,†,‡; Rossetti, Andrea O.

Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology: December 2015 - Volume 32 - Issue 6 - p 481–485
doi: 10.1097/WNP.0000000000000194
Invited Review

Summary: Neurophysiology is an essential tool for clinicians dealing with patients in the intensive care unit. Because of consciousness disorders, clinical examination is frequently limited. In this setting, neurophysiological examination provides valuable information about seizure detection, treatment guidance, and neurological outcome. However, to acquire reliable signals, some technical precautions need to be known. EEG is prone to artifacts, and the intensive care unit environment is rich in artifact sources (electrical devices including mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and sedative medications, and frequent noise, etc.). This review will discuss and summarize the current technical guidelines for EEG acquisition and also some practical pitfalls specific for the intensive care unit.

*Department of Neurology, Hôpital du Valais, Sion, Switzerland;

Department of Clinical Neurosciences, CHUV and Lausanne University, Lausanne, Switzerland; and

Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Vincent Alvarez, MD, Hôpital du Valais, Service de Neurologie, Av. du Grand-Champsec 80, CH-1950-Sion, Switzerland; e-mail:

© 2015 by the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society