Assessing the usefulness of electroencephalography in psychiatry: Outcome of referrals at a psychiatric hospital

Molokashe Molokomme, Ugasvaree Subramaney


This retrospective study was conducted at Sterkfontein psychiatric hospital in Gauteng. The objectives included investigating reasons for referral to conduct an electroencephalography (EEG) and to determine whether EEG findings have impact on clinical management. Source data included EEG reports over an 18-month period and clinical records. The total sample was 85 adult inpatients (53 males; 32 females). Seizure disorder exclusion was the main reason for EEG referral (69.0%). Seventy-four (87.0%) records were normal, 7 (8.2%) were abnormal 2 (2.4%) were inconclusive and 2 (2.4%) EEG reports were unavailable. There was no statistically significant correlation between abnormal EEG results and demographic variables, symptoms admission diagnosis and medications. EEG recording demonstrated a low yield of abnormal results. In this study, EEG results did not appear to influence the treating psychiatrists regarding management, but this could be as a result of the small sample size. As interactions between psychiatric conditions and epilepsy are important and well established, negative EEGs are indeed useful and it is recommended that clinicians should carefully consider which patients should be referred for EEGs.

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Submitted: 19 October 2014
Published: 19 August 2016

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)