Neurodiagnostics is the analysis and monitoring of the nervous system function of patients in order to help physicians decide and perform effective treatment of neurological diseases and conditions, including:
- Seizure disorders
- Blurred vision
- Hearing loss
Neurodiagnostic tests, or, simply, neurodiagnostics, are done when a patients’ illness or condition is thought to be based in the central nervous system, which is comprised of the brain and spinal cord. A neurodiagnostic technologist (NDT) will learn to perform the following diagnostic procedures:
This is probably one of the most recognized tests that an NDT does. Electrodes are attached to the head to track electrical activity in the brain. They can even be used to track sleep patterns. Most often an EEG is the test used to diagnose epilepsy, and is often also used to evaluate the effects of head trauma or infectious disease.
An EEG can help find the cause of headaches, dizziness, seizure or convulsions, and loss of consciousness. Long-term monitoring with an EEG is often combined with video recorded behavior to capture a seizure, which can give doctors much more information about what is happening with patients with infrequent brain disturbances or used to adjust medications.
This is monitoring performed during surgery, which is used to give surgeons feedback. It monitors neurological structures most at risk during surgical procedures. NDTs report on the functional integrity of the nervous system, including the spinal cord, the brain, and the blood supply to those areas. Surgical procedures that receive intraoperative neuromonitoring include:
- Spinal surgery for scoliosis
- Tumors and aneurysms
- Vascular surgery
- ENT surgeries
Evoked potentials are the recordings of the electrical activity from the central nervous system, including from sensory receptors. This type of feedback helps evaluate vision and hearing problems.
Nerve conductive studies
These studies measure how nerves are conducting signals to or from the brain. This type of sensory and motor testing helps determine what could be causing any of the following:
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Muscle cramping
- Abnormal movements
- Pain or loss of sensation
Once a physician knows the cause of these symptoms, they can determine a course of treatment.
An MEG is usually combined with an EEG to evaluate a patient for epilepsy surgery. An MEG measures changing magnetic fields associated with electric activity in the brain.
Neurodiagnostic technologists (NDTs) fill a specialized field of health care. NDTs work closely with people, from patients to physicians. They are a vital part of a healthcare team. If you have an interest in science, especially brain physiology, and like working with people in a caring role, a career as an NDT could be for you. For more information, see the ASET The Neurodiagnostic Diagnostic Society site.
If you are an educator in this field, a Pocket Nurse solution to teach students how to diagnose is the Neuro 7, a seven-in-one diagnostics tool.
ASET “What is Neurodiagnostics?” [Video]