Magnetoencephalography (MEG)

The newly opened Magnetoencephalography (MEG) laboratory at Dell Children’s Medical Center provides advanced, state-of-the-art brain mapping technology within a world-class laboratory and is poised to become a premiere site in Texas for functional neuroimaging.

What Is MEG?

MEG is a non-invasive (no shots or radiation) brain imaging technology that can identify the exact location of essential brain functions such as those involved in controlling the hands and feet, processing speech, sense of touch, or vision. MEG can also localize seizures and other types of abnormal brain activity. With this combined information, surgical procedures can be planned to remove diseased brain while minimize damage to parts of the brain that are working correctly.

How Does MEG Work?

MEG passively records very tiny magnetic fields produced by naturally occurring brain activity. Using advanced methods, we can determine where in the brain functions occur. The results are combined with an MRI to construct a functional brain map that helps physicians develop a treatment plan.

Who Would Benefit from MEG?

MEG can benefit many children who have chronic neurological problems or may need brain surgery.

  • Children with medically refractory epilepsy
  • Children diagnosed with a brain tumor
  • Any child who has consulted with a neurologist and neurosurgeon about brain surgery

How Long Does the MEG Scan Take?

The amount of time it takes to complete the MEG scan varies from person to person. However, children and families should be prepared to be at Dell Children’s Medical Center for anywhere between three to five hours. During this time, there will be long stretches where your child will be asked to lay still, but there will be opportunities for breaks. Children needing anesthesia may involve additional time commitments.

How to Prepare for the MEG

As an outpatient procedure, preparing for the MEG scan is minimal. In an effort to have a successful scan, we ask that your child arrive sleep-deprived or tired in hopes of recording their brain activity in the awake, drowsy and sleep states. Your child can eat normally before the scan and should take medications as usual, unless told otherwise.

Because metals can interfere with the scan, your child should not wear any clothing with metal zippers or snaps above the waist and shouldn’t wear jewelry or a wrist watch. Electronic items with a magnetic strip also aren’t allowed. Please notify MEG department personnel in advance if your child wears braces or a permanent retainer, or has an electronic implant, such as a pacemaker or a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS).

Other suggestions in preparing for the MEG scan include:

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks (soda, coffee, tea) the morning of the test
  • The night prior to the test, wash your child’s hair, but avoid hair products (no conditioner, oil, gel, mousse or hairspray)
  • No underwire bras
  • No makeup, lotion or creams to the face or body
  • Glasses will be removed prior to the test; contact lenses are OK
  • A “blankie” or stuffed animal (without metal components) can be comforting for children

What to Expect During the MEG Scan

When your child arrives for the MEG scan, EEG electrodes are placed on their head. The child is moved into the room where the scan will take place and positioned properly. The head will be in the scanner, but the face will not be covered. Once the scan has started, the child may be asked to lay still, watch flashing lights or move their fingers. The scanner does not make any noise and the child will not know when the scan has begun. Once the scan is completed, the child is helped out of the scanner.