Why am I having this test?
The MEG lab operates a clinical facility designed to enhance the care of patients with epilepsy and certain brain tumors/lesions by utilizing state-of-the-art non-invasive diagnostic neuroimaging technologies by creating a virtual 3D map of the brain's activity. With a detailed medical profile, a history highlighting etiological factors, a neurological exam and other diagnostic imaging recordings, our physicians are better able to determine the best therapy and/or treatment options.
In this picture, MEG Lab Manager, Jeff Killen, prepares a patient for the MEG scan.
What are the risks?
Fortunately, there are no known risks associated with magnetoencephalography. Unlike MRI, this procedure does not subject the patient to a magnetic field. MEG procedures can be performed safely with a pacemaker or metallic implant, although these may limit the accuracy or feasability of the procedure.
What should I know about the appointment for an MEG Scan?
Many of your questions can be answered by referring to the appropriate page on this website. It is most important to review the Patient Pre-Screening and Insurance Questions Sections. We do perform scans on patients with Vagal Nerve Stimulators / VNS Implants, but the MEG Receptive Language Scan in particular may not be possible due to the required location of the recording electrode and its relation to the location of area of the brain responsible for understanding language -- interference is experienced during the scan.
What will the scan(s) be like?
There will be no invasive procedures, needles, or physical exams, unless a history and physical is required for a pediatric patient. Conscious sedation is usually provided for patients twelve years of age and under or for patients with developmental delays; this is not total sedation administered intravenously but is only light sedation given orally to reduce anxiety and promote a motionless scan. Patients will be given breaks if needed, including any trips to the bathroom. If you become stressed, this may affect the results, so be sure to let the staff know if you need a break.
How long will the scan(s) last?
Our evaluations typically last from 3.5 to 5 hours depending on the number and nature of the scans performed. We schedule our appointments at 8:30 a.m. in order to facilitate completing the evaluation in one morning. Additional brain mapping -- such as for somatosensory, visual, or auditory -- will add to scan time. Most of these scans can be performed on the same day's visit to the clinic. In some cases, for Language Mapping, it may be necessary to come to the lab on a separate day to perform that scan. On average, most patients leave our lab by noon to 1:00 p.m. However, if a PET Scan or MRI is scheduled for after the MEG scan, you will be at UAB/TKC for longer.
How can I prepare for the scan(s)?
- Follow any pre-procedure instructions provided to you, to include any medication changes or sleep deprivation that might have been recommended. It is important to confirm these with your referring/prescribing physician before the scan.
- Continue to take all non-seizure medications as prescribed by your doctor – don’t stop taking any medications unless you have been instructed you to do so as part of pre-procedure preparations.
- If you use corrective lenses for vision (glasses or contacts) and you are scheduled for a Visual Mapping scan, you will not be able to use your glasses if they contain ANY metal -- you should bring your contacts and plan to use those.
- Bring any skipped and/or emergency seizure medications with you to the lab!
What do I need to bring with me to the MEG lab?
- Insurance card(s) and approval information, if applicable.
- Co-payments will not be collected at the time of the scan unless you are pre-paying in advance
- Sweater or light jacket (all cotton) in case you become cold.
Do I need to bring anyone with me?
You may need to have a spouse, adult child, friend, relative, or caregiver accompany you to your appointment. This person may be providing transportation for you if you have driving limitations. In cases involving children or motor problems, the person accompanying the patient is responsible for maintaining the patient’s safety by administering any medications, assisting with mobility in and out of the lab, and taking the patient to the restroom unless a Patient Escort is requested. The MEG Lab staff are not trained to handle medical and self-care tasks for patients. If someone is not available to assist with patients requiring such care on the day of an appointment, please contact our office so alternate arrangements can be made.
When will I know the results?
After your appointment, the results of your tests will be analyzed, interpreted, and compiled in a comprehensive report by our neurologist(s). This is a time-consuming process which generally takes 2 weeks before completion. It is not possible to have your report ready the same day as your appointment. When your report is completed, it will be forwarded to your referring physician, and you will receive the results of the evaluation when you return to your referring doctor, not from the lab.
Confirming Appointments & Insurance Coverage
If you have to cancel or reschedule your appointment for any reason, please try to let us know at least 24 hours in advance. If you are local, please call 801-8299. If you are outside of Birmingham, please call 1-800-333-6543 and ask for the Neurology scheduling office.
As a reminder, we will be verifying our records and will ask to see your insurance card. If your insurance requires a Pre-Authorization or Prior Determination, we will need this information. You must be able to provide it at the time of your appointment. If there is not a current Pre-authorization or Prior Determination and your insurance requires it, you will be responsible for your bill. See "MEG Insurance Questions
" section for additional information about this.
You should confirm with your referring physician or your insurance company that appropriate approvals have been completed.