Inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

At Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we use advanced diagnostic tools to offer your child the most precise, effective treatment plan. If our specialists can’t determine the exact cause of seizures at the first visit with us, we may schedule your child for an overnight stay in our inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU).

Inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit: Why Choose Us

During a stay in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, your child benefits from:

  • Advanced digital EEG technologies: We offer the most innovative diagnostic tools, some of which aren’t available elsewhere. Our monitoring system involves 24/7 electroencephalogram (EEG), which records brain wave activity. High-definition cameras enable epileptologists to observe patients remotely at any time. With these tools, we can quickly pinpoint the cause of seizures more accurately, which means we can treat the seizures more effectively.  
  • 24/7 expert care: In the EMU, specially trained nurses and registered electroencephalogram (EEG) technicians monitor your child around the clock. If your child has a seizure at any time, these specialists provide immediate treatment. We are one of the only hospitals in the country where your child receives this advanced level of monitoring at all hours.
  • Monitoring-friendly playroom: Our patients have access to the first and only EMU-compatible play area in Southern California. The Bluetooth-enabled room allows children to remain wirelessly connected to monitoring equipment while moving and playing freely. Children staying in the EMU can periodically leave their individual rooms and play with other children on the unit in this playroom. Parents staying with their children also have the chance to meet and socialize with other parents in the unit.

What Happens During an EMU Stay?

If an epilepsy specialist orders inpatient EMU testing, your child stays in the EMU for at least 24 hours and up to two weeks. This timeline depends on how long it takes for our epilepsy specialists to record information about your child’s seizures. If your child has a seizure within the first few days in the unit, we may have enough information to make diagnosis and treatment decisions.

During a stay in the EMU, specially trained experts use video EEG to continuously monitor your child. EEGs record brain wave activity so that we can identify the seizure cause and location in the brain. Children’s Hospital has an ABRET-accredited EEG center, which means we use high-quality EEG equipment and advanced techniques.

What tests will my child have in the EMU?

We may use a variety of brain scans to effectively diagnose and treat seizures during your child’s stay in the EMU. These scans tell us more information about your child’s seizures, such as the seizure location or brain blood flow.

What happens if my child has a seizure in the EMU?

Your child is in the EMU so that we can observe seizures as they occur. We use real-time tools that help us identify why your child’s seizures are happening. When your child has a seizure, our specialists closely monitor your child and provide any necessary treatment.

EMU-compatible playroom

At Children’s Hospital, our Inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit has an EMU-compatible playroom. EMU-compatible means that children can remain on their monitoring equipment while in the playroom.

In other EMUs, children cannot leave their rooms because the monitoring equipment must remain plugged into the wall. At CHLA, we give your child a small backpack to carry the monitoring equipment. In the playroom, this small monitoring box connects to the video EEG equipment via wireless Bluetooth technology, allowing your child to roam and play freely.

Benefits of the playroom

Because of the EMU-compatible playroom, once a day, children can leave their individual rooms and play with other children also undergoing EEG monitoring. Children benefit from the chance to leave the room and play for a few hours, and they can meet and bond with other children in similar situations. 

Preparing for Your EMU Visit

Because the length of your child’s EMU stay can vary, our scheduler helps you choose the appointment date that works best for your child and family.

Learn more about how to prepare for your EMU visit by downloading our EMU information guides:

Epilepsy Diagnosis and Neuroimaging 

Children’s Hospital specialists use a range of diagnostic tools for epilepsy. Find out more about epilepsy diagnosis and neuroimaging.