Electroencephalography referrals and outcomes in a tertiary Psychiatric Hospital

Molokomme, Molokashe Meriam
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INTRODUCTION The electroencephalography (EEG), since its inception in the 1930s, has become one of the most used investigative tools in psychiatry. Its uses include exclusion of seizure disorders and encephalopathic conditions. In psychiatry distinguishing between a primary psychiatric disorder and psychiatric manifestations of an underlying medical condition is of vital importance. This determines which course of management the psychiatrist should follow, and most importantly, determines the prognosis. However, EEG studies done in psychiatry have yielded unfavourable results. The yield of positive (abnormal) EEG results is very low. Despite this, it is still widely requested by most psychiatrists. There is a dearth of literature assessing the usefulness of EEG in psychiatry in our South African setting. The current study looked at which users are referred for EEG and the outcomes thereof. METHODS The study was conducted at Sterkfontein psychiatric hospital. A retrospective review of clinical records, and EEG reports, of inpatients 18yrs and older that underwent EEG between January 2008 to June 2009 was done. A data sheet was used as a recording tool. Data was analysed using the Statistica 9.0 system. RESULTS The total sample was 85. Seventy four (87%) records were normal, 7(8,2%) were abnormal, 2(2,4%) were inconclusive and two EEG reports were unavailable. Only one user’s diagnosis changed based on abnormal EEG results. There was no statistically significant correlation between abnormal EEG results and demographic variables, symptoms, admission diagnosis and medications. CONCLUSION The positive yield of EEG results remains very low in psychiatry. EEG results do not appear to influence the treating psychiatrist’s decision regarding management.