As part of the comprehensive epilepsy program at Children’s Neuroscience Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, we offer pediatric magnetoencephalography (MEG), which helps us locate abnormalities inside a child’s brain. MEG is a noninvasive technique that maps brain functions by measuring a brain’s natural magnetic activity. Additionally, during the MEG session, there are simultaneous EEG (electroencephalogram) recordings collected with EEG electrodes attached to the head. These tests give the medical specialists, including those affiliated with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, a comprehensive picture of where a neurological issue is originating, which can help minimize surgical risks and lead to better treatment outcomes.

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MEG and its results can help provide the most information possible about a child’s condition and allow the team to create an informed plan for treatment and management. The precise map generated by MEG testing also helps affiliated pediatric neurosurgeons avoid any regions of the brain that are critical to speech and motor function during any potential surgical intervention. MEG is a completely silent and noninvasive test, and patients are not exposed to any radiation, strong magnetic fields or loud noises.

How Does Pediatric MEG Work?

Magnetoencephalography is a noninvasive diagnostic technique that uses sensors placed in a helmet over a patient’s head to measure the brain’s activity. These sensors are called magnetometers and gradiometers, and they function like small radio antennas. The combination of MEG and EEG produce detailed data from the brain’s electromagnetic activity, which allow MEG specialists to identify areas of the brain that are operating abnormally. Combined with other diagnostic images, including those obtained from a brain MRI, this data set can help pinpoint areas of concern, including those that may be causing seizures.

After the EEG electrodes are placed on the child’s head, they will be brought into a special, magnetically shielded room to begin the test. To ensure that the MEG only reads the patient’s magnetic brain activity, he or she is the only person in the room during the scans. Some children may require sedation to ensure the test is as successful and accurate as possible.

In some cases, pediatric patients will be asked to engage in activities—including moving, speaking, listening, or remembering—to stimulate important areas within the brain. The MEG system will record the child’s brain activity over the course of an hour or two. When the test is over, all electrodes are removed and the test is over.

Before MEG testing, pediatric patients have the opportunity to work with the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Child Life specialists, who can help the child feel comfortable before, during and after the test. Based on the child’s age, development, and health condition, a Child Life specialist can help calm children. Through play and activities, Child Life specialists work to meet the emotional, developmental and psychosocial needs of all patients and share information about the upcoming test at an age-appropriate level.

How Are the Results Read?

The test report and MEG recordings are then carefully reviewed by a team of specialists, including affiliated board-certified neurologists trained in MEG. The results are then shared with the child’s provider, who will then work with you to create a plan for treatment or management based on the findings.

What Are the Benefits of a MEG Evaluation?

MEG testing is a helpful tool for some pediatric patients who may have a neurological abnormality, like epilepsy, and/or are potential candidates for some type of neurosurgical intervention, like stereo EEG or laser ablation.

  • MEG imaging can provide affiliated pediatric epileptologists with an accurate and detailed set of data that will help inform them about a child’s condition and provide the necessary information for the medical team to develop a personalized and optimal treatment plan for each patient.
  • MEG imaging can pinpoint brain areas that are involved in the generation of seizures. It is also a valuable tool for mapping brain regions that are paramount for movement, touch, hearing, seeing, and language, providing a clear picture of important brain functions.
  • When brain surgery is necessary, MEG provides a precise map of a child’s brain, which helps specialists plot optimal surgical paths for minimally invasive procedures, avoiding critical sensory, motor, or language-specific cortexes.
  • The test is completely noninvasive, silent, and it does not carry any associated health risks.

Why Choose Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital for MEG Testing?

Memorial Hermann brought the first MEG to Houston in 1997, and it is one of the longest, continuously operating MEG centers in the country. Since the inception of our clinical MEG services, more than 2,700 pediatric and adult patients have undergone a MEG evaluation at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

 The purpose of the MEG at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital is to help in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of both pediatric and adult patients with intractable epilepsy (epilepsy that does not respond to medication) and other conditions potentially requiring neurosurgical interventions. Our whole-head MEG system was the first of its kind in Texas, and our center remains one of only a few in clinical use in the region, with patients from Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and other states traveling to Houston for this evaluation.

 As one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country, the multidisciplinary team of clinical technicians and affiliated experienced medical specialists are uniquely positioned to perform an accurate, detailed, and personalized brain mapping experience for pediatric patients. Using the state-of-the-art technology, coupled with a child-friendly environment and customized care plans, we strive to ensure that any family’s experience before, during, and after MEG imaging is as easy and efficient as possible.

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If you have any questions, use the online tool below to help us connect with you. To refer a patient or schedule an appointment, please contact us using the information below.

Children’s Imaging and Procedure Suites
6411 Fannin Street, Ground Floor
Houston, TX 77030
P: (713) 704-1507

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